April 09, 2013 - 5:09 PM
By Shannon Quesnel
The April-July flood season has started and already several creeks and rivers have been showing signs of rising water.
Large floods can cause massive damage. Small floods have negative effects too. Rising waters can wash out roads, damage bridges, down power lines and prevent residents from getting to where they need to go. That's a big deal if someone's medication runs out.
Mark Woods said it's important that people have enough food, clean water and medicine to last three or more days. The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen community services manager pointed at his office map where flooding has hit the hardest in the Okanagan-Similkameen area. A few minutes before he was on the phone with colleagues in other districts about the 2013 flood season.
Many of the Okanagan Valley's peaks are still snow-capped. This means more water coming down the mountain(s) potentially overflowing creeks and rivers. Farmland, residential property and town streets can and will get wet.
That's a concern for Woods. Part of his job is helping communities prepare. The emergency response will depend on what type of flooding has occurred. A downed power line would require electrical crews. A person trapped at home might be rescued by police officers. Emergency Management B.C. might also respond. One of the biggest dangers is chemicals in farmland soil being washed into creeks and rivers.
Woods said it's important for communities and residents to have emergency plans in place, especially in the flood-prone Okanagan zone. Many communities were damaged during big floods in 1998 and 2008.
An emergency plan is only useful if every household member knows about it. The Emergency Management B.C.'s website states the plan should include information on shutting electrical power and natural gas sources, safe meeting places out of the floodrisk area, an out-of-province contact, plans for pets and livestock, and a neighbourhood safety plan that identifies people who may need extra help. A battery-powered or wind-up radio means access to weather warnings and disaster instructions from local radio stations.
For more information on emergency preparedness go the B.C. emergency program website at www.embc.gov.bc.ca.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013