Preparing for a flood
Many residents and businesses in the Lower Mainland are located in a floodplain - close to or beside local rivers, creeks, or coastlines.
You can reduce your risk of flood damage by
- Reading material about flood reduction supplied by the local municipality.
- Walking around the home after heavy rainfall to see where water is pooling. If water flows toward the home, the owner should get professional advice about directing water away from the home.
- Cleaning gutters and downspouts.
- Making sure the home’s drain tiles work. The basement will flood if tiles are old or plugged and need replacing.
- Flood proofing the basement or ground floor, which involves sealing the foundation.
- Installing backflow valves on basement floor drains, washing machine drains, toilets and sink drains.
- Locating the storm sewer on the road. It will look like a large grate and is designed to carry storm related water runoff. If it’s plugged with leaves, the owner should phone the local municipal public works department and they will clean it.
- Buying a sump pump and testing it so it’s ready to be used if needed during heavy rain storms.
- Contacting the municipality to find out where sand and bags are available should a flood occur.
Here is a useful Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding
In Canada, flood insurance isn’t available to home owners. Other water damage may be covered by homeowner policies, including sewer backup and burst pipes, but not for overland flooding.
How can home owners protect themselves?
While a flood can happen anywhere it rains, home buyers should assess flood risks in the area where they plan to buy. Home buyers can:
- Review floodplain maps for specific areas, here. Select Region 2 - Lower Mainland.
- Talk to the local municipality about the risk and the history of flooding in the area.
What do I do if my home floods?
Document damage to the property. Take photos or videos, and keep detailed records.
Government help for flood victims
Home owners, tenants, small business owners and farm owners who are victims of a flood, may be eligible for assistance through the Provincial Emergency Program’s Disaster Financial Assistance Program.
For information on applying for financial help after a disaster, disaster financial assistance guidelines, and compensation, visit http://embc.gov.bc.ca/em/index.html.
An action plan to update floodplain maps
The province currently has 87 floodplain maps showing areas that are subject to high flood hazard available here. (Select Region 2 - Lower Mainland).
Experts recommend these maps be updated every ten years – and currently 60% of these maps are at least 20 years old.
Outdated floodplain maps compromise the ability of decision makers to assess and manage flood risks. This puts BC communities and home owners in jeopardy.
To help ensure maps are current, BC Real Estate Association hosted a workshop to encourage the provincial government to update floodplain maps.
This workshop was attended by 70 decision makers and practitioners involved with flood management, land use and emergency management. Here is the resulting Floodplain Maps Action Plan.