The Government of B.C. is helping communities prepare for flooding and is ready to assist in response to floods where necessary.
When fall rains return after prolonged dry weather, or drought, the River Forecast Centre monitors conditions closely. Dry soils can increase runoff and river flows, but the ground quickly starts to absorb water again in response to typical fall storms each year. As a result, the transition to moderate rainfall patterns does not normally cause extensive flooding. However, people living near streams and rivers that have flooded in previous fall seasons are encouraged to monitor weather and river conditions in their area closely during this transition.
While atmospheric rivers are common during the fall and winter storm season, extreme weather similar to mid-November 2021 are rare. However, flooding is a common, naturally occurring event in B.C.
The Province is taking action to keep people and communities safe in the event of flooding:
- Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is prepared to deploy four million sandbags to local governments to protect homes and public infrastructure.
- EMBC is prepared to deploy or pre-position sandbag machines to areas of flood concern or potential flood concern throughout the province.
- EMBC is prepared to deploy 10 kilometres of gabions, which are wall-like structures filled with sand, and 32 kilometres of tiger dams, which are stackable orange tubes filled with water.
- This year, EMBC expanded its use of Alert Ready to issue broadcast intrusive alerts on behalf of communities to warn British Columbians of imminent threats due to flooding.
- In 2020, EMBC launched a digital registration system for Emergency Support Services (ESS) to provide timely access to support. Earlier this year, ESS was expanded to include direct payment to evacuees through Interac e-Transfer.
- EMBC is holding regular regional co-ordination calls with First Nations and communities to assist with preparedness.
- The River Forecast Centre is monitoring weather patterns and river conditions, and remains vigilant for a potential rapid transition toward extreme wet weather that could contribute to increased flood hazard.
Emergency Management BC asks that residents in affected regions take precautions to ensure personal safety, including developing a household plan, putting together emergency kits, connecting with neighbours and learning about the local government emergency response plan for their area.
As well, British Columbians can take the following steps:
Protect your home:
People are advised to prepare for possible flooding of low-lying areas by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground, where possible. Clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters. Sandbags also help and can be made 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’ll need if you are 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 is out of the ordinary.
If you face a threatening flood situation, park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors and make sure to anchor fuel supplies. Listen to local officials if you are asked to evacuate. In the event of flooding, here are some tips about what to avoid:
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 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. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
Heavy rain may contribute to landslides and dangerous debris in creeks and waterways. Be safe and don’t go down to watch the rushing water. 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.
There are more details in PreparedBC’s Flood Preparedness Guide. The guide contains useful information that will help people better protect themselves and their homes, and understand what to do if their home or community is at risk of flooding.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food encourages farmers, ranchers and food producers to ensure they have an emergency plan in place, especially for those who face flood-related risks, and they can access planning guidance documents on the ministry’s website.
Flood Preparedness Guide: www.preparedbc.ca/floods
For tips on how to prepare grab-and-go bags visit: www.preparedbc.ca/emergencykit
River Forecast Centre: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/
Flood preparation for agriculture operations: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/business-market-development/emergency-management/freshet-and-flood
Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges. Be prepared and plan an alternative route. For the latest road conditions, visit: www.drivebc.ca