British Columbians urged to prepare for flood season

May 9 2020, 9:32 am

With temperatures rising throughout the province, British Columbians are being urged to take steps to prepare for the spring flood season.

In a release, Emergency Management BC said the “most severe” floods in the province usually occur in spring and early summer when melting snow and rain combine. Floods can also be caused by storm surges, ice jams or damage to structures like dikes and dams.

The agency also offered a series of tips on how people can prepare for and protect themselves against the flood season.

  • Protect your home: The public is advised to prepare for possible flooding of low-lying areas by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground, where possible. Clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters. Sandbags help and can be available through your local government.
  • Create grab-and-go bags: Assemble an individual grab-and-go bag for each member of your household with the essentials they will need if asked to evacuate.
  • Recognize the danger signs: If you live near a waterway, a change in water colour or rapid change in water level (especially a drop) could indicate a problem upstream. Call your local fire, police or public works department immediately if you suspect something out of the ordinary.

For anyone that faces a “threatening flood situation,” officials urge them to park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors, and anchor fuel supplies.

In the event of flooding, Emergency Management BC offers these guidelines:

  • Steer clear of river shorelines;
  • Keep away from river edges and shorelines. During periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse. Stay well away and keep young children and pets away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges;
  • Do not drive through flood water;
  • Never attempt to drive or walk in flood water. Just 15 centimetres (six inches) of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and 61 centimetres (two feet) of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.

In addition to flooding, British Columbians are also being reminded that heavy rain and snowmelt can increase risk of landslides can increase during this time of year as well. As such, people are urged to avoid areas close to creeks and waterways. “If you notice trees beginning to lean or bend near your home, or cracks developing in the hillside, consult an engineer or contact local authorities,” the agency said.

More information on these and other measures is available in BC’s Flood Preparedness Guide.