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Red Deer County News

Posted on: June 5, 2018

Flood Preparedness

Washout (4)

Floods
Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada and have had devastating effects in Alberta. They can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or man-made dam.

Flood Facts
• A heavy rainfall can result in flooding, particularly when the ground is still frozen or already saturated from previous storms.
• Flash flooding - in which warning time is extremely limited - can be caused by violent storms or dams breaking.
• Many Alberta rivers experience flooding at one time or another. The potential for flood damage is high where there is development on low-lying flood-prone lands.

Before a Flood
To prepare for a flood and reduce the likelihood of flood damage
• Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
• Install the drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building.
• Consider installing a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains.
• Do not store your important documents in the basement. Keep them at a higher level, protected from flood damage.

If a flood is forecast
• Take special precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment.
• If there is enough time, consult your electricity or fuel supplier for instructions on how to proceed.
• In floods, sheltering livestock may be the wrong thing to do. Leaving animals unsheltered is preferable because flood waters that inundate a barn could trap animals inside, causing them to drown.
• If evacuation of the animals is being considered, then evacuation procedures, places and routes should be planned. Animal evacuation routes must not interfere with human evacuation routes. Alternate routes should be found in case the planned route is not accessible. Places where animals are to be taken should be decided in advance and arrangements made with the owners of these places to accept the animals.

If flooding is imminent
• Move furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level.
• Remove toxic substances such as pesticides and insecticides from the flood area to prevent pollution.
• Remove toilet bowls and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper.
• Disconnect eaves troughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
• In some cases, homes may be protected with sandbags or polyethylene barriers.
• Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal.
• Leave your home immediately and do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

During a Flood
• Listen to the radio or television for information from local officials and follow their instructions.
• Monitor alerts from the Alberta Emergency Alert app.
• Keep your emergency kit close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag, back pack or suitcase with wheels.
• Make sure your cell phone is charged and the charger is packed.

If you need to evacuate
• Vacate your home when you are advised to do so by local emergency authorities. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those who might eventually have to come to your rescue.
• Take your emergency kit with you.
• Follow the routes specified by officials. Do not take shortcuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
• Make arrangements for pets. Time permitting, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.
• Never cross a flooded area
• If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away.
• If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses. The water may be deeper than it looks, and your car could get stuck or swept away by fast water.
• Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
• If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

After a Flood
• Do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
• If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
• Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, and pressure or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried and inspected by a qualified electrician.
• The main electrical panel must also be cleaned, dried and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.
• Depending on where you live, your municipal or the provincial inspection authority is responsible for the permitting process required before your electric utility can reconnect power to your home.

Ensure building safety
• Rely on the professionals to make sure the building is structurally safe. Do not enter if you see buckled walls or floors.
• Take safety precautions. Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris.

Before moving back in
Once the flood waters have receded, you must not live in your house until:
• The regular water supply has been inspected and officially declared safe for use.
• Every flood-contaminated room has been thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and surface-dried.
• All contaminated dishes and utensils have been thoroughly washed and disinfected - either by using boiling water or by using a sterilizing solution (i.e. one part chlorine bleach to four parts water). Rinse dishes and utensils thoroughly.
• Adequate toilet facilities are available. (For more information, consult your local health authority.)

Documentation
• Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
• Register the amount of damage to your home with both your insurance agent and local municipality immediately.

Be Informed
Download the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive notifications and current information about disasters or emergencies impacting your community.

Information provided by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency http://www.aema.alberta.ca/documents/aema-ppp-flooding.pdf 

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