Stewart: The day after: What happens after a flood

Spring has come, bringing with it warmer temperatures—and, unfortunately, spring floods.

Spring has come, bringing with it warmer temperatures—and, unfortunately, spring floods.

Seasonal precipitation mixed with extensive melt raises water levels in creeks and lakes, which increases the risk of flooding.

That’s not news to anyone who lives here.

But while the Okanagan is no stranger to floods, this year has been particularly challenging.

I wish there was a way to effectively prevent these disasters. But unfortunately, when it comes to natural disasters, our primary role in government is encouraging residents to be prepared, and working with emergency responders to coordinate information.

Once something like flooding occurs, I am in regular contact with organizations such as local fire and police departments, Emergency Management British Columbia, and of course municipal and regional governments.

I work closely with District of West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater to ensure the province and sistrict continue to reinforce each other’s efforts and deliver assistance as quickly as possible to the residents of Hitchner Road.

Of course, when people are affected by floods —and as soon as it’s clear everyone is safe—it’s only natural they will next consider the financial implications.

Put simply, for the families and businesses whose homes and livelihoods are affected, floods are enormously expensive.

One of my first calls was to Attorney General  Shirley Bond, whose ministry includes the B.C. Disaster Financial Assistance Program (DFA).

Disaster assistance for victims of the April floods was authorized on May 11. Once authorized, the DFA pays up to 80 per cent of eligible repairs to a maximum of $300,000.

Unfortunately, these processes take time. We are not yet able to determine compensation for people impacted by the current flooding.

Once the water recedes and damage assessments are made we will move forward with offering eligible compensation.

People in areas affected by a significant disaster will be advised through local announcements when DFA has been authorized in their area. Local government is also eligible for DFA to repair or restore essential infrastructures.

Of course, the best advice is to avoid damage and the need for financial assistance by being prepared.

I urge all Central Okanagan residents to take action well before flood waters become a real threat.

If you happened to notice the province’s online emergency preparedness campaign, you may have noticed the advice is strikingly similar to getting prepared for all kinds of disasters: review insurance policies, assemble a “grab and go” kit of important documents, medications, a change of clothes, pet supplies, etc., in case you’re forced to evacuate.

To report a serious flood situation that may endanger life safety or necessitate an emergency evacuation, call Emergency Management B.C. at 1-800-663-3456 or visit their website, www.pep.bc.ca.