'Worst-case scenarios': Fraser Valley residents warned to be prepared for potential spring flooding
It's a call to be prepared for potential flooding this spring, and it comes with good reason.
The Fraser Valley Regional District is urging those living in low-lying areas to have “go kits” ready and important documents easily accessible should homes have to be quickly evacuated.
“What we’re doing here is not to try and alarm people but is to be proactive, be ready before an event happens,” said Jason Lum, chair of the FVRD.
The request comes as B.C. faces an elevated flood risk. The province has seen record snowpack and record-late melt in some areas. The Fraser River is being closely monitored.
“We are seeing elevated snowpack and that’s been exacerbated by the delay in the melt, and so there’s still most of that snow to come down over the next four to six weeks,” said David Campbell of B.C.’s River Forecast Centre.
“We’re starting to see some of those worst-case scenarios related to the weather pattern so far in the snowpack,” he added.
Campbell said conditions are similar to what occurred before the historic Fraser River floods of 1948.
“We did see that pattern of an extremely cool spring and then a rapid melt, so we know that’s the kind of ingredients for a potential significant flood event, so that’s what’s concerning us most,” he said.
Sudden, hot weather is a worry. Heavy rains, like those seen in November, are not expected, but Campbell said heavy rain could still be the “wild card.”
The catastrophic flooding in B.C. last year has made Lum, and many others, more cautious.
“I think everybody’s a little bit tense, walking a little bit on eggshells here,” he said.
“The climate is changing. These weather events are becoming more extreme and more frequent. And really, it’s up to us … to become resilient as well, make sure we're doing everything we can to be emergency prepared,” Lum said.
He said when the weather warms up and people are spending more time around rivers and streams, they need to be extra cautious.
“When the melt starts, it can rise very rapidly, especially if the weather turns very warm, very quickly.”
He said one of the challenges continues to be the current diking systems, which will take billions of dollars to upgrade.
Lum recommends residents sign up for the Alertable app to receive emergency notifications.
“The time is now to get ready and be prepared,” he said.