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Talking about street flooding

Six important flood safety tips

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, October 1, 2015, 6:04 PM - Forecasters are keeping an eye on moisture-packed systems that are hitting eastern Canada and threatening parts of the U.S., elevating the risk for floods.

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to mitigate flood risk. While some damages are unavoidable, taking an assessment ahead of time can make a huge difference.

"The first thing to do is ask yourself: 'Am I ready'?" Paul Bradley of the Department of Public Safety for the Province of New Brunswick tells The Weather Network.

"And there are a lot of things you can do to be ready, like moving your possessions to higher ground, moving things out of the basement where it could flood and tying things down so they don't float away. If you take a few minutes to prepare yourself, you'll thank yourself later on."

Here are some tips that can help keep you safe and, hopefully, dry.


Living in a flood-prone zone may make a home ineligible for flood insurance, but living outside of a flood area doesn't necessarily ensure coverage.

"Buyers need to be aware that houses may be deemed to be a flood risk despite not being near water," says Garth Macdonald, a student-at-law at Delaney’s Law Firm in Ottawa, Ont.

"Each insurance company determines which areas are at risk. Categories like 'flood plain,' 'susceptible zones,' and 'fringe flooding areas' will affect insurability, rates, and policy riders." Macdonald recommends finding a local, knowledgeable broker to help select the right flood policy and riders.

Experts recommend reviewing your policy prior to floods to avoid unwelcome surprises when trying to file a damage claim.


This can include:

  • Sealing your basement to prevent water from seeping into creeks
  • Raising electrical system components as high as possible
  • Making sure your sump pumps are working properly
  • If a big storm is coming, consider stocking up on supplies, like: sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and shovels

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If you can, arrange to leave your car in a high-elevation area, and avoid driving in flooded areas at all costs.

"When approaching a flooded area, you can't be sure of the depth of the water or the condition of the road beneath it, which may be broken up or washed away. Worst case, there may be no road left under the water," writes Gary Malloy, a columnist at autofile.ca.

"Just 15 cm of standing water – sometimes less – can be enough to cause engine stalling. Your engine can suffer serious and expensive damage if it ingests water. And you'll be stranded."

Malloy adds it's never safe to attempt driving through fast-moving water because it could sweep your vehicle away.

"As a rule of thumb, don't drive into water that's too deep to see the painted markings on the road."

According to State Farm Insurance, nearly half of all flood deaths occur when vehicles stall, or are swept away by floodwaters.

Photo taken during the historic floods in southern Alberta in June 2013. The incident is one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history at $1.7 billion.


Streams, creeks and low-lying areas should be avoided. Flash flooding can happen in a matter of minutes during, or shortly after, a major rain event.


Stock up on bottled water, canned food, blankets and first aid supplies.

Make sure medication is topped off and kept in an elevated, dry place.


Tune into The Weather Network on TV and pay attention to local announcements for flood updates.

If you are forced to leave your home due to an evacuation, be aware of which roads are safe to drive on. If your area has been evacuated, do not return home until authorities have allowed you to do so.  

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