This past Sunday, South-Western Ontario was hit with a massive thunderstorm, dumping 100 millimetres of rain -- or more -- on our area. My hometown of Hamilton was no exception, with many areas of the lower east side not only flooded, but turned into small lakes. That's not only because of the lower land levels, but because the sewers in that area have been weak and unstable for at least 26 years. Homes are flooded out so often that many residents can't even get insurance anymore. So with Hamilton City Hall holding an emergency meeting on this issue, I for one hope that they're finally going to actually do something about it.
The thing is, while this storm is a so-called Hundred Year Storm, that part of town gets flooded at least a few times every year -- that's why insurance is such a hassle there. So this is by no means a new problem, yet to a large extent all we hear from our local politicians is some bellyaching on fixing this disaster waiting to happen, and actual work being done at a snail's pace. While Sunday's thunderstorm was -- hopefully -- a relatively rare incident, one has to wonder what Hamilton is waiting for, if this won't be enough for them to take the issue seriously? Will homes have to be washed away, like the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans? Will already poor residents have to abandon homes that they can't afford to constantly repair? Will residents have to die in the hundreds? What does it take before this city finally gets off its apathetic ass and does something??
To be fair, some city councillors, such as Sam Merulla, want Hamilton to compensate flood victims for property damage. Again, with insurance not being an option, this is definitely understandable. However, I have to wonder what good this does in the long run; never mind that the settlements probably won't be very large, doesn't this do the same thing he criticizes the Pan Am games bid for: divert money away from larger problems? While this might sound heartless in the short term, I think that what should be done is that ALL available tax money go straight to replacing the sewers -- until that is done, it should not only be top priority, but the only priority. That way, residents won't need to worry about their basements flooding again.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you feel as strongly about this issue as I do, then I urge you all to contact Hamilton City Hall and let the mayor and councillors know that this is not a problem that can be ignored anymore. Even if you aren't from Hamilton, if you're worried about people losing their homes and lives because of a man-made problem, PLEASE write or call the people who have the power to fix it. The Mayor's phone number is 905-574-3733, and the City's web address is www.myhamilton.ca. That's it for me.