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British Columbians urged to take caution as water levels rise in province

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

The province is urging caution and encouraging the public to prepare for localized flooding as water levels are expected to rise in several regions of the province due to heavy rainfall.

Areas currently under a flood warning:

* the Upper Fraser River, including its tributaries and around Prince George; and

* the Quesnel River.

Areas currently under a flood watch:

* the Peace region;

* northeastern B.C.;

* the Cariboo region, including tributaries and areas around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House;

* the Chilcotin River and its tributaries, including Big Creek and the Chilko River;

* the Fraser River from Prince George to Boston Bar; and

* the North Thompson River, South Thompson River and Thompson River at Kamloops.

As well, there are high lake level conditions and high streamflow throughout much of B.C., including: all areas along the Fraser River and its tributaries, the Quesnel River, the Thompson River and tributaries, and in the Peace and Chilcotin regions.

“Water levels rising in these areas are high and very fast moving, so people need to take extra caution right now and be prepared,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I want to stress that any sort of recreation on these waters is highly dangerous right now, so let’s make sure we’re not taking any unnecessary risks.”

Below are some tips to help British Columbians prepare for potential flooding:

* Keep clear of eroded banks, as they may result in unstable ground. Most importantly, keep children and pets away from stream banks.

* With higher water levels, boaters and water users can expect increased debris.

* Boaters should be aware of the effect their wake can have on shorelines and reduce speed accordingly. Wave action can cause erosion or flooding.

* Never drive or walk through flooded streets. Water can be deeper than it appears, and levels can rise very quickly.

* Stay alert for changing conditions, particularly if you live in low-lying areas or near waterways.

* Listen to local officials and follow their instructions if asked to evacuate.

With the potential for high water in many areas of the province, there is a potential for evacuation alerts and evacuation orders. Emergency Support Services (ESS) has launched a new digital registration system, the Evacuee Registration Assistance (ERA) tool, that allows evacuees to register online rather than in person at an evacuation centre. This means that people who are evacuated during an emergency will have a virtual way to access support while maintaining the physical distancing required to protect evacuees and ESS volunteers from COVID-19.

If placed on evacuation alert, you are encouraged to reach out to your local government to learn more about how you can be supported should you be evacuated. This will look differently in each community, including instructions on when to self-register using the ERA tool.

If placed under evacuation alert, you should immediately:

* Get prepared to leave your home on short notice.

* Get grab-and-go bags ready. (They should include several days of clothing, toiletries and medications, your emergency plan, copies of important documents and mementos.)

* Listen to local emergency officials for further information on the situation.

If you are placed under evacuation order, you must:

* Leave the area immediately.

* Follow the directions of local emergency officials and evacuate using the route(s) they have identified.

* Do not return home until you have been advised that the evacuation order has been rescinded.

Emergency Management BC’s role is to co-ordinate provincial support to local and First Nations governments and collaborate with a number of different agencies, including:

* Environment and Climate Change Canada,

* the River Forecast Centre,

* emergency managers from:
* the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure;

* the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy;

* the Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Management Branch;

* the Ministry of Health; and

* other partners, such as the First Nations Health Authority, Indigenous Services Canada and a number of non-governmental organizations.

British Columbians can find more details in the new Flood Preparedness Guide released by PreparedBC. The guide contains useful information that will help British Columbians better protect themselves and their homes and understand what to do if their home or community is at risk of flooding.

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