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BC Homeowners Face Tough Times When Flooding Strikes



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By : Mike Andruff    99 or more times read
Residents of Southern BC have faced tough weather conditions this winter, with buckets of snow wreaking havoc on transportation arteries throughout the mainland as well as Vancouver Island. Rising temperatures and heavy rains are now causing the snow to melt quickly, which is overwhelming waterways and flooding streets and houses.

Chilliwack, for instance has declared a State of Emergency due to dangerous flood conditions. Mudslides are also hitting some homeowners in the Fraser Valley, putting not only property, but lives at risk. The melting snow and rain have caused an overflow in Victoria's sewage system, which has resulted in untreated waste flowing into the waters of the eastern coastline.

With flood waters hitting so many BC communities, homeowners need to know what to do to protect their homes in the event of a flood.

The first thing that BC homeowners need to be aware of is the fact that natural flooding is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. In the event that your pipes burst or city water mains fail, you will be covered for any water damage incurred, but cases of overland flooding are not covered.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, flood insurance is not available in BC because it would not be cost effective. In general, only those who live in high risk areas are willing to pay for flood insurance, which means that insurance premiums would cost homeowners a mint. Flood insurance would only be feasible if more people were willing to pay for it; it would even out the mix of high- and -low risk policy holders, making it a more viable venture for providers.

Some areas are now eligible for financial aid under the Disaster Financial Assistance Program, which is run by the Ministry of Public Safety. This plan is designed to assist homeowners and small business owners whose property has been damaged from an event that is not covered by standard insurance, such as overland flooding. Those who qualify for assistance can receive up to 80% coverage for damages that are between $1000 and $300,000.

Areas that have been approved for assistance from the recent floods and mudslides include Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Surrey, Langley, the Fraser Valley Regional District, and communities along Southern Vancouver Island. If you live within one of these areas, you must submit an application within 90 days of the approved event. To apply, visit the Provincial Emergency Program website at pep.bc.ca.

If you're concerned about flooding in your own home, the best thing you can do is to minimize the amount of water that can get inside the house. If possible, have sewer backflow valves installed to keep floodwaters and sewage from backing up into your drains. If this isn't feasible, you can minimize backflow by stopping all drains with drain plugs, weighing down your toilet lids to keep them closed, and disconnecting dishwashers and washing machines.

Line up sandbags around the perimeter of your home and in front of any vents or openings. If you can't find sandbags locally, fill pillowcases with soil from your garden.

Move everything of value (including important documents) to higher ground. If you have more than one story, move everything to the highest floor. Appliances and furniture should be raised as high as possible, and you should be prepared to turn off gas, water, and electricity. Make sure to have food supplies, bottled drinking water, flashlights, medications, batteries, and a first aid kit with you on an upper floor, and don't forget to grab your pets, some food for them, and a litter tray.
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