The B.C. government is warning communities not to be misled by the unseasonably hot and dry weather and to prepare for potential incoming flooding now.
It says drought conditions can actually temporarily increase the risk of floods when rains first hit, before it has time to soak through dry soil.
“…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,” a Thursday (Oct. 13) news release from the province reads.
It says atmospheric rivers as extreme as the one that devastated many parts of B.C. in November 2021 are rare, but that lower levels of flooding are normal.
In the event that communities do flood, the province says it is prepared to deploy four million sandbags, as well as sandbag machines. It also has 10 kilometres of gabions – wall-like structures filled with sand – and 32 kilometres of tiger dams – stackable tubes filled with water – ready to be used.
Unlike last year, communities will also have the option this time around to issue broadcast-intrusive alerts if extreme flooding is incoming.
Prior to any severe weather though, Emergency Management BC is asking residents to do what they can to prepare. They’re asked to develop a household plan, put together emergency kits, connect with neighbours and educate themselves on their local government’s emergency response plan.
People can also protect their homes and belongings by removing valuables and equipment from low-lying areas, clearing perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters and securing sandbags.
The province says people should watch out for changes in the colour or rapids of local waterways or sudden drops in water levels as indicators that something could be wrong.
If floods do hit, people are told to keep away from the edge of rivers and watch out for signs of landslides. They’re also reminded not to drive through flood water as it can carry vehicles away.
As a result of the November 2021 floods, close to 20,000 people were displaced and more than 640,000 livestock were killed. The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the it also cost $675 million in insured damage alone.