Share this page Print

Flooding - What you can do to prepare

Visit flood preparation to learn more about current conditions or find out the latest information about the recovery, rebuilding and resiliency efforts from the 2013 flood. Find out what to do when you return home after the flood​.

You can't always avoid flooding – but if you're prepared, you can lessen the impact.

Preparing inside your home

Check your sump pump

Some houses along the Bow and Elbow rivers have basement sump pumps. Sump pumps send water away from a house to any place where it no longer presents a problem. If you have a sump pump, check it periodically to ensure it's working properly. It's important to note that if you lose electrical power your sump pump will not work. A back-up generator is recommended.

Move business records and waste

Move business records and dangerous goods from basements or lower floors to upper floors. Businesses should also secure any waste stored at ground level.

Move electronic equipment

If possible, move television sets, computers, appliances, stereo and electronic equipment to higher levels of your home and away from windows.

Move valuable documents and personal items

Safely store important documents such as insurance papers, family documents (such as wills, tax returns and passports) in water-tight bags. Store items of personal value such as photos, family videos or treasured mementos in water-tight bags and move them to a safe place.

Prevent sewage and stormwater from backing up into basements

When water on flooded streets drains into sanitary sewer manholes, sewer pipes may become overloaded and cause flooding in basements. You can stop sewage from entering your basement by capping or installing a back-flow prevention device on your basement floor drain. Back-flow prevention devices can also be installed in basement showers, toilets and sinks. Call a qualified plumber for more information. Back-flow prevention devices should be checked once per year.

Weeping tile is a perforated pipe surrounding basement foundations. It's used to drain high groundwater into the storm-sewer system. A weeping tile back-up prevention device stops water from entering basements when the storm-sewer system overloads. It's a good idea to locate the floor drain, the clean out and the back-flow prevention device (if you have this device) on your sanitary sewer line in case you have to respond to a sewer backup.

Preparing your property

Clear eavestroughs

Clear leaves and other debris from your eavestrough to prevent rainwater from running down the sides of your house, where it could accumulate and seep into your basement. Downspouts should lead away from your house. Make sure your downspout extensions are at least 1.5 metres (five feet) away from your house. If your front and back yards drain toward the street, put the down spout extensions in the front yard only. If you take the extensions off to mow the lawn, remember to put them on again.

Don't connect eavestrough extensions or downspouts to other pipes

Don't connect extensions from your eavestrough to the sanitary sewer line or weeping tile because excess water could overload pipes and cause flooding in your basement. Don't connect eavestroughs that drain directly onto a street, lane or sidewalk. This kind of connection can wash out gravel lanes and increase the chances of flooding in your community. Eavestrough extensions should drain away from your house and onto your grass, so the water soaks into the ground.

Don't over-water lawns

Over-watering your lawn and flowerbeds next to your house can cause seepage into the basement. A leak in an underground sprinkler system can do the same thing. If you have an underground system, check for leaks and drain it every fall before the ground freezes.

Improve yard drainage

To prevent water from collecting beside your house and seeping into the basement, make sure yard and flower gardens drain away from your house and onto a grassed area in the front or back yard – not toward a neighbour's yard. Check around outside walls, under stairs and decks where soil settles, and fill in any hollow or sunken areas. Cover your window wells with a plastic protector to prevent rainfall from collecting. During the winter, remove snow from the foundation of your home. For more information, view our Lot Grading Bylaw Brochure.

Keep drainage gutters clear of debris

Some yards have concrete drainage gutters in the backyard. The concrete drainage gutter at the back of your property should be clear of debris. This gutter is designed to drain water from the backyards on your block. Homeowners are responsible for keeping these gutters clean.

Maintain your property level's height

When it rains, streets, dry ponds, wet ponds, rivers and streams hold excess water. Lowering the level of your property for a walk-out basement, garage or any other reason, creates a pathway for water to enter your home.

Park your vehicles on high ground

If you have low spots on the street where water collects, park your vehicles on higher ground.

Report plugged storm drains

If you see a plugged storm drain, call 311. We'll clear the debris from the drain to allow proper drainage.

Creating a flood plan

Depending upon the flooding, emergency response personnel might not be able to respond directly for up to three days.

Create an emergency plan

You may have to evacuate your home – or you may have to stay home without basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment or telephone. Create an emergency plan for your family. For more information, see: Is your family prepared.

Prepare a 72-hour kit

A 72-hour kit contains supplies to support you and your family for three days, and will help you be prepared for all emergency situations. Your kit needs to contain enough water for you and your family. Learn how to prepare and store water for your 72-hour kit or download our 72-hour kit water preparation handout.

Have an out-of-town contact

You and your loved ones may not be together when an emergency happens. To ensure you can locate one another, identify an out-of-town contact. Ensure everyone knows his or her telephone number. This person can help co-ordinate a meeting place for the family.

Set a safe meeting spot

Plan a safe meeting spot outside your neighbourhood. Everyone must know the location and phone number of the meeting spot if it's not safe to enter your home or return to your neighbourhood.

Preparing your business

Businesses are more likely to flood than burn down, so it is vital to prepare now. You can save between 20% and 90% on inventory and moving equipment by taking action to prepare in advance of flooding. Download our Flood Preparation Business Checklist.

Prepare your property

  • Locate your electrical, gas and water shutoff valves and know how to turn them off
  • Secure or relocate to higher ground any unstable materials that may be swept away or moved by flood waters (for example: pallets, lumber, fuel tanks, equipment)
  • Identify any materials that could cause environmental damage if they came in contact with flood waters (ie. paints, fuel, fertilizers, etc.)
  • Ensure your property grade always slopes away from buildings

Prepare your building(s)

  • Move electronic equipment (computers), furniture, valuables and important documents or records to an area safe from flood waters
  • Ensure you have sump-pumps with backup power and one-way valves installed in wastewater drains

Prepare your employees

  • Discuss with employees your business emergency plan, even if it is informal
  • Ensure employees are aware of any hazards

Prepare your business

  • Make a plan for a temporary location if your business is forced to relocate
  • Create a communications plan for your employees, suppliers and customers in case of an emergency
  • Keep important documents (electronic and paper) in an alternate location
  • Keep an accurate count of your inventory
  • Talk to your insurance company to ensure you fully understand your policy regarding flooding or water damage