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Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
May 11, 2017
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Emergency Management BC
Recommendations for personal safety around flood waters

VICTORIA – Inclement weather is expected in many areas of British Columbia, leading to increased water levels in the coming days for the province’s rivers, lakes and streams.

Environment Canada forecasts severe thunderstorms for the Central and Southeast regions of the province with strong southerly winds. Up to 25 millimetres of rain is expected, with more precipitation forecast for Friday and Saturday.

There is a high potential for additional flooding and the potential for landslides. The Province is recommending that homeowners and first responders should use caution and familiarize themselves with working around water:

  • Stay as far away from flood waters as possible and exercise extreme caution when driving.
  • Drivers should go to for up-to-date information on road conditions and closures.

Working around water

Freshet and flood conditions can present any number of hazards from road washouts and undercut banks to structural failures and contamination. If you live near a waterway or are preparing for or may be subject to responding to flood-damaged areas, however, the first line of defence is to avoid putting yourself in hazardous or life threatening situations.

Any patrols, assessments or required emergency work should only commence during daylight hours as this will:

  • Allow workers to monitor upstream hazards and better assess values lost and at risk.
  • Support, monitor and assist others in unforeseen events that may occur.
  • Allow for any rescue operations to be undertaken with worker safety in mind.

Working around moving water should be avoided as much as possible. Only work for the purpose of saving lives, protecting critical infrastructure or preventing significant property damage should be considered.

Driving and flooding

Standing water may be encountered on flooded roads or properties. Water can obscure conditions beneath the surface and driving through flooded areas should be avoided. Walking through flooded areas should also be avoided as flood waters may present various forms of contamination such as sewage, fuels or pesticides.

Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges. That’s why it is important to be prepared and plan out an alternative route. Check for the latest road conditions and Emergency Info BC for up-to-date flood information.

Motorists should consider the following tips when travelling through flood–prone areas:

  • If you find yourself on a road that’s flooded or marked closed, don’t continue. Turn around and use another route. Just six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet and as little as two feet can carry away most vehicles.
  • If you have no choice but to drive into water, drive slowly and cautiously. Watch carefully for signs of a moving current that may impact the safety of the road ahead.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a flooded stretch of road, be prepared to abandon it and retreat to higher ground.
  • Don’t try to retrieve vehicles from flooded areas until it’s safe. Wait for the water to recede.
  • Pack a vehicle emergency kit for your car, and store an extra pair of comfortable shoes, a waterproof jacket and important medications.
  • Keep up to date with weather forecasts and road information.
  • Watch for traffic personnel and obey flaggers.

Flood Preparedness

Flood waters move fast, so develop a household plan, put together your emergency kit and connect with your neighbours. Learn about the emergency response plan for your area. Visit for more information and guides, or click on the links in the Learn More section below.

If you face a threatening flood situation, park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors and make sure to anchor fuel supplies. Listen to local officials if you are asked to evacuate.

More flooding expected along Okanagan Lake and river system

Thunderstorms with isolated heavy rainfall would increase streamflows and could raise Okanagan Lake levels, which may lead to localized flooding around the lake. Outflows through Okanagan Lake Dam are being maximized, leading to extremely high flows in Okanagan River through to Osoyoos Lake. The water will potentially reach record levels on Vaseux Lake. Residents should take steps to protect their property.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations owns and operates the Okanagan Lake, Skaha Lake and McIntyre dams, which regulate water levels and flows from Okanagan Lake to Osoyoos Lake. Ministry staff continues to actively monitor conditions.

Waterfront property owners are encouraged to move any equipment away from the water. During periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse and erosion. Stay well away and keep young children and pets away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges.

Learn More:

For more information on flood prevention and flood response, visit:

For information on flood conditions and evacuation orders, visit Emergency Info BC:

To learn about protecting your home and property, download the PreparedBC Flood Information for Homeowners and Home Buyers guide:

Sandbagging tips (three languages) and video:

Flooding and food safety:

For information on local road closures:

For local driving conditions:

Media Relations
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
250 356-8241

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