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Watching the waters rise

So we’re into flood watch season in Prince George.

It doesn’t happen every spring, but it happens often enough that most people in Prince George know what to do when the warnings go out.

The big rule for everyone: Stay away from riverbanks and fast-flowing water.

For those people who live in flood-prone areas, you probably already know this, but make sure your 72-hour emergency kit is up-to-date.

Over my years in the newspaper business, I lived in a number of communities which had a risk of flooding almost every spring. In one of the communities, one year the danger was particularly high. I asked the man from the village administration who was in charge of flood safety which areas were most at risk.

He thought for a second, and then said, “I’ll give you the quick answer, but it sounds too much like a joke, so I would prefer you not print it. Then I’ll give you the better answer.”

I assured him I would not print his ‘quick’ response, at which point he said, “If you’re living on a street that starts with the word ‘River’, that’s usually not a good sign.”

I agreed with him that it was a bit too ‘flip’ of an answer to be publishers, although it was definitely accurate.

It’s something I have heard in a number of those communities, how the people who like to be right down on the river for the view or access to the water sometimes seem to feel that water shouldn’t then put them at risk of flooding.

I was not in the one community when the next thing happened, but I heard about it from a number of people who had been there. A new resident had bought some nice property on the river and decided to build a dock. But not just any dock, no their dock was going to be long and strong.

And it was.

Until a couple of years later when the river flooded, ran up against this long dock and carried it off. His neighbours, who had smaller docks, didn’t have that problem because their docks had less surface area for the water to run against.

Or at least that was the argument I heard a few times for why the big dock was gone with the flood. I’m no scientist, and I’ve never lived on the water, so it sounded good to me.

We’ll have to wait a couple of months, probably, before we know how bad this flood season is. Hopefully it won’t be a bad one.

But, as they say, prepare for the worst and the only surprises you get will be pleasant ones.

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