Now that spring has officially arrived, some Central Okanagan property owners should consider protecting their property and reducing the risk of damage from potential flooding.
Those living near creeks, streams and low-lying flood-prone areas and with lakefront properties are responsible for having a plan as well as the tools and equipment necessary to protect their properties from possible flood damage.
While there are no areas of concern at the present time, a sudden prolonged warm spell combined with heavy rains could increase the risk of above average creek levels and potential flooding.
Local governments and the BC Ministry of Environment are monitoring water levels and weather conditions connected to the annual spring runoff and if needed will issue further notices.
Stockpiles of sandbags are available at all local fire halls throughout the Central Okanagan. At this time, property owners are responsible for providing their own sand to fill the bags. Information and pamphlets on flood preparedness including a recommended method for sandbag diking are available from the Regional District of Central Okanagan office (1450 KLO Road) and the main City of Kelowna fire hall on Enterprise Way as well as on the Be Prepared page of the Regional District Emergency Program website www.cordemergency.ca and on the Emergency Management BC website: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks/floods
With anticipated seasonally warmer temperatures and the melting of the snowpack, the level of Mission and other area creeks will be rising and water will flow faster. At this time of year, please use caution around all local water bodies. People are reminded that water levels may rise unexpectedly and they and their pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff.
In the event of an emergency and activation of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), the latest information will be available online at the EOC Public Information website: www.cordemergency.ca. Central Okanagan residents are encouraged to subscribe on the website to receive email notifications from the Emergency Program.
Protecting Your Property Before A Flood
(from Emergency Management BC – Guide to Protecting Your Family and Home http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks/floods )
PREPARING FOR POSSIBLE FLOODING IN YOUR AREA
Flooding may occur in the area where you live, and although your home may not be immediately affected, you may be cut off from outside resources (phone, electricity, safe drinking water, road access) and even some members of your household.
You should have in place, at all times:
- An emergency plan that every household member knows. The plan should include information on how to shut off electrical power and natural gas sources, safe meeting places out of the flood-risk area, an out-of-province contact, plans for pets and livestock, and a neighbourhood safety plan that identifies people who may need extra help.
- An emergency supply kit containing food, water, necessary medications, flashlights and batteries, personal toiletries, identification for each family member, some cash and any important family documents. Be prepared to be on your own for at least 72 hours, possibly longer.
- A battery powered or wind up radio that allows you to access weather warnings and disaster instructions from local radio stations.
- A plan for protecting your home and the tools and items you may need to do so (wrenches for shutting off valves, plastic sheeting or sandbags).
- A full gas tank in your vehicle.
FLOOD PROOFING YOUR HOME
If your home is threatened, it is important not only to be prepared for the first line of flooding, but to make as many preparations as possible for the return to normal living once the flood has subsided. If there is time some of the following tips will help to minimize flood damage.
- Move outdoor furniture inside and relocate any essential personal effects that could be damaged by flooding or which could float and cause damage.
- Buoyant materials should be removed from the basement to lessen the potential for damage to first floor components of the structure should the basement flood.
- Dangerous chemicals such as weed killer, insecticides and corrosives should be removed to dry areas to reduce the dangers of chemical contamination, fires, explosions and personal injuries.
- If time allows, move all vehicles, recreational vehicles, farm equipment and other modes of transportation with gasoline or diesel engines to high ground.
- If there is enough advance warning, homeowners should get professional help or advice if planning to move larger appliances of any kind. There are established procedures for doing this safely.
- Portable electric appliances such as kitchen blenders and mixers, as well as power tools must be kept dry or not operated until completely dried, cleaned and overhauled.
- Radios, televisions, stereo systems and other home electronic systems should be moved above the flood level. Repairs to such items following submersion is not practical.
- Shut off electrical power at the main switch to your house. If the room is already flooded do not attempt to turn off power;
- Further information about electrical safety is available at BC Hydro and Safety Authority
Water and Sewage:
- If eaves troughs are connected to the house sewer system, disconnect them and re-channel the flow to points more than 1.5 metres from the building’s foundations. This will help reduce the flow of water into the community sewage system.
- If you plug the basement sewer, be sure to remove the toilet bowl from any basement bathroom and plug that sewer drain securely as well.
- Prevent illness by understanding that drinking water may become contaminated. Listen for boil water advisories or other safety instructions from emergency officials.
Oil, Natural Gas and Propane:
- An oil tank will float if it isn’t full. Stabilize your oil tank and weigh it down with sandbags or wedge it against a solid object.
- Anchor propane tanks. Both full and empty propane tanks will float. Turn off valves and anchor tanks to a solid object with a chain or cable.
- Know how to safely shut off your gas. Have the tools to do so on hand so this can be done as you evacuate.
STAY CONNECTED WHILE IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS
Continue to monitor news sources to stay aware of the current situation. This allows you to receive weather warnings, safety information and disaster instructions from local government.
- High Streamflow Advisory – means that river levels are rising or are expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.
- Flood Watch – means that river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed the riverbank. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.
- Flood Warning – means that river levels have exceeded the riverbank or will exceed the riverbank imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.