Be Prepared: Flooding

Floods are common in Canada and have devastated many areas of Alberta. Flooding can occur at any time of year and can result from heavy rainfall, ice jams, rapid melting of glaciers or snow packs or natural or man-made dam failures.

The potential for flood damage is high in low-lying areas along rivers or in ravines, called flood plains’ however, flooding is not limited to these areas and can happen anywhere

How to prepare

  • Download the Alberta Rivers: Data and Advisories app or visit Alberta River Basins for more information.
  • Maintain an emergency kit stocked with supplies such as water, food, battery-powered or crank radio and flashlight, extra batteries or Weatheradio.
  • Store important documents such as passports, birth certificates, banking information and insurance papers in a safe place in an above ground location.
  • If you have a vehicle, keep the tank full in case fuel stations lose power or close down.
  • Protect your home and belongings

    • Use weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
    • Ensure downspout drainage moves water away from the property.
    • Install a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains if possible.
  • Safeguard pets and livestock

    Have a plan in case of evacuation. Include where your pets will go and how they will get there safely

During a flood

Never attempt to cross a flooded area. Water is powerful – 6 inches of moving water can knock over an adult and 12 inches can carry away a car. Two feet of moving water can easily move mid-sized vehicles

  • Stay informed on the situation by listening to updates from authorities.
  • Be sure to follow all directions and instructions from authorities.
  • Have your emergency kit, including your important documents, ready to go.
  • Avoid locking farm animals in enclosures, such as barns. They could drown if they are trapped.
  • Protecting your home during a flood

    • Consult your electricity or fuel supplier for instructions on how to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane equipment.
    • Do not shut off electricity if any water is present.
    • 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.
    • Disconnect eavestroughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
    • Properties can be protected with sandbags or other barriers. This approach requires specific instructions from authorities
  • Evacuation alerts and orders

    Evacuation alerts warn the public of a potential or current threat. Evacuation ordersare mandatory and issued for public safety.

    • If an order is issued, leave your location as soon as authorities tell you to.
    • Avoid low-lying areas, such as ravines or underpasses that could flood quickly.
    • If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your vehicle stalls, abandon it to save yourself and your passengers.
    • Follow evacuation routes specified by authorities. Do not take shortcuts.
    • Drive carefully with headlights on. Make way for pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

Alberta Emergency Alerts

Staying informed during emergencies can save your life. Protect yourself and your loved ones by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive critical, life-saving alerts.

You can also find out more information by contacting your community directly to find out where they post updated information during emergencies.

Before you travel, check Alberta 511 for current road conditions to help you arrive to your destination safely.

After a flood

Floods can cause mould or toxic residues that make your home unliveable.

If you had to evacuate, you can’t return home until authorities tell you it is safe to do so. In some cases, re-entry can involve a brief return home only to inspect damages. Authorities may notify you using the contact information you shared when registering at a reception centre.

Before homeowners are allowed to return to their homes, the area must be deemed safe, and must have heating, water, sewer and communications. In areas serviced by wells, groundwater needs to be inspected to make sure it has not been affected

Do not enter your home or property if:
  • an expert has not deemed it safe to do so
  • any part of the structure has collapsed
  • the structure is off its foundation
  • the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding

When re-entering, use extreme caution at all times.
This is especially true if there are holes in the floor, broken glass and/or dangerous debris.

  • When You Return Home

    Authorities may give specific instructions for things you need to do when you return home. Below is a list of possible actions you could take:

    • Work with your insurance company to make informed decisions about your home and needed repairs.
    • Have your home inspected to ensure power, water and gas have been restored and there are no leaks.
    • Have your home inspected for safety if the emergency was severe, since structural damage may not be visible.
    • Keep fridges and deep freezes sealed if power was off during an evacuation. Follow instructions of authorities and/or your insurance company for removal and disposal.
    • In case of flooding, ensure proper ventilation in case of water damage inside your walls.
    • Do not put yourself at risk by moving heavy items without help or by overworking to get things done.
    • Seek medical help immediately if you become overwhelmed or stressed by your tasks ahead.

    Specific actions are needed after a flood. Learn what steps you need to take when returning home after a flood.

  • Financial Preparedness

    • Speak to an insurance agent about your specific needs.
    • Know your insurance options and policy limits. Make sure your home, vehicle, business and belongings are protected. Talk to your insurance agent to learn about what is not covered in your insurance policy.
    • If possible, consider an emergency savings account to cover temporary expenses while you are out of your home.
    • If you can, keep emergency cash handy in case banking services are unavailable.
    • If you are evacuated, keep all receipts for additional expenses.
    • Prepare a detailed list of all your belongings. For more information, see Home Inventory.
    • Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim. For more information, see Claims Management.
    • The Disaster Recovery Program may provide assistance for uninsurable loss and damage.