What happens during a flood

Last updated on January 10, 2024

If a flood is about to happen, the most important thing you can do is follow all evacuation alerts and orders and follow all instructions from your band office, municipality, regional district or local authority.

On this page

Flood advisories and warnings

The River Forecast Centre website issues advisories and warnings about current or expected flood risks. You can also follow @EmergencyInfoBC on X (formerly Twitter) to get notifications for Flood Watches and Flood Warnings. There are three stages of notification. 

High Streamflow Advisory

River levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

Flood Watch

River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed the river bank. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.

Flood Warning

River levels have exceeded the river bank or will exceed the river bank imminently, and flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers will result.

Evacuation stages

Learn about what happens during an evacuation including before, during, and after an Evacuation Order is issued.

How to build a sandbag dike

You can prevent or reduce flood damage to your home by building a sandbag dike. It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a 1-x-20-foot wall. Contact your local government for information on obtaining sandbags.

Bags required per 100 linear feet of dike:

Height above dike Bags required
1/3 metre 600
2/3 metre 2,000
1 metre 3,400

  • Locate the sandbag dike on high ground as close as possible to your home.
  • Dig a bonding trench, one sack deep by two sacks wide.
  • Alternate the direction of sacks (e.g. bottom layer length-wise with dike, next layer crosswise).
  • Sacks should be approximately half-filled with clay, silt or sand.
  • Tying or sewing of sacks is not necessary.
  • Lap unfilled portion under next sack.
  • Press firmly in place.

Coping with stress during a flood

Alerts, evacuations, loss and worry – floods can affect us all. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone.

Take care

Stress takes a toll on your physical and mental health. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep lowers stress and helps us cope.

Reach out

Talking helps, whether it’s with family, friends, a doctor or counsellor. Crisis lines are available to listen and help any time. You can contact:

  • BC Mental Health Support Line, available 24 hours a day at 310-6789 (no area code)
  • KUU-US Indigenous Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717

Help others

Take care of the vulnerable. Assisting others can help you regain a sense of purpose and community as you confront the challenges together.