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BC Public Safety Ministry Warns Heavy Rain May Increase Flood Risk

People on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast are being warned that heavy rain between now and Halloween may create a risk of flooding.

Environment Canada says a narrow band of heavy precipitation will bring rain to the North and Central Coast today, and then Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Lower Mainland on Thursday.

BC’s Public Safety Ministry says an extreme amount of rain, such as the mid-November atmospheric river events of last year, is not expected.

However, coming on the heels of a drought the precipitation could cause flooding and the River Forecast Centre will issue advisories and warnings as needed.

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People are advised to prepare for possible flooding of low-lying areas, keep away from river edges and shorelines which may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse, do not walk or drive through flood waters, and prepare a grab and go kit if they need to evacuate on short notice.

The narrow bands of heavy precipitation, also known as atmospheric rivers, usually arrive in the fall and early winter.

West Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound can expect between 40 and 80 millimetres of rain.

Eastern Vancouver Island can expect up to 20 millimetres.

While it wants to assure people the upcoming wet and stormy weather is typical and expected, the BC Government says it is preparing to keep people and communities safe in the event of flooding:

  • Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is working closely with communities on preparedness activities, including regular regional co-ordination calls with First Nations and communities.
  • 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 an increased flood hazard.
  • 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.
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