British Columbia

B.C. storms: here's what you can do to prepare

A series of powerful fall storms is expected to pummel the South Coast beginning Wednesday night. There are a few things people can do to avoid too much trouble when the weather hits.

Environment Canada warns that high winds and more than 100 mm of rain can be expected in Metro Vancouver

A car is crushed under a fallen tree at Pendrell Street and Chilco Street in Vancouver after a windstorm in June, 2015. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

With a series of powerful storms expected to pummel British Columbia's South Coast this week, officials are hoping people do everything they can to prepare.

"Residents have a responsibility to be prepared for all emergencies, including power outages and flooding," said Fiona Dercole with the District of North Vancouver.

"They can make sure their emergency kits are up to date and that they have some small cash on hand in case they can't make it to a bank machine."

Environment Canada warns the first storm bringing heavy rain and high wind is expected to arrive by Wednesday night, with a second Friday morning and a third on Saturday.

Water floods the intersection of Keith Road and Marine Drive after an intense rainstorm in June, 2016. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The nasty weather is expected to hit areas all over the South Coast, with more than 200 millimetres of rain for parts of Vancouver Island and more than 100 millimetres for areas around Metro Vancouver.

Winds could exceed 80 km/h in exposed areas, according to a special weather alert issued by Environment Canada.

In North Vancouver, which tends to get some of the heaviest rain in the region, workers have been doing what they can to get ready.

"Crews are out clearing the streets and cleaning the catch basins and checking the inlets to all of our culverts," said Dercole. "But residents, if they notice the drain in front of their street is plugged with leaves or debris, they can clean it themselves or they can give us a call and we'll send a crew to come and clean it."

Contractors work to upgrade a sediment catch basin in Kilmer Creek in North Vancouver. The creek was one of several to overflow in November, 2014, flooding nearby properties. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

In Lynn Valley, contractors are improving some of the culverts and sediment drainage basins that were overwhelmed with flooding in 2014. Though the Kilmer Creek job won't be complete by the time rain hits this week (it's expected to wrap up in November), workers were doing what they could on Tuesday to make sure it could handle heavy creek flows.

How to get ready

North Shore emergency management director Dorit Mason echoes Dercole's warnings about being prepared.

"We really want people to realize there are hazards and risks and we really want people to take action and get prepared," she said, adding a few things to watch for:

  • Downed power lines should be avoided; if found call 911.
  • Rivers and creeks with high, swift-moving currents could erode and undercut banks. Be careful near river edges.
  • High winds can blow down trees, so be careful if walking in the forest or around trees.
  • High winds could possibly blow planters or other things off of high-rise patios; make sure everything is secured.
  • Boaters should avoid being on the water during storms and ensure their boats are secured.
  • Autumn leaves plug up drains and gutters, causing flooding. Clear any plugged drains.
  • Follow instructions from officials and any first responders in your area.
  • Use common sense.

Mason also suggests being prepared for power outages and service disruptions. She suggests including the following items in an emergency kit:

  • Enough food and water for a minimum of 72 hours.
  • Food that doesn't need to be cooked and never bring a barbecue inside.
  • Warm clothing and never bring a portable propane heater into the house.
  • Medications, extra prescription lenses.
  • Supplies for pets and children.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Enough cash in small bills to buy anything that may be needed for a few days if credit and debit cards don't work.

According to Mason, if you have an earthquake kit, that will cover most of the same needs during an intense storm, but she reminds people to replace anything from the kit that gets used.

Huge swells splash over the seawall at Vancouver's Second Beach during a windstorm in June, 2015. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker