Port Coquitlam raised the City dikes in 2007 and proactively takes steps to prepare for the safety of residents and businesses should flooding occur, including:
- Patrolling and maintaining City dikes and pump stations
- Monitoring weather forecasts and river levels
- Liaising with other governments and utilities
- Educating and informing the public
- Developing contingency plans
When there is a potential for flooding, flood warning precautions and instructions are provided through media outlets, and, if necessary, door-to-door. In addition, residents in flood-prone areas receive a flood information package, as the risk of flooding increases.
Above-normal snowpack in the Fraser River watershed brings the potential for flooding in late May and June. If flooding occurs along the Fraser, certain parts of Port Coquitlam could be affected. Please use extreme caution along the dikes and other watercourses at these times, as the water is flowing very quickly.
The Spring Freshet Map (PDF) outlines the areas that would be affected by the Pitt River.
A High Streamflow Advisory means that river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.
A Flood Watch means that river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bank full. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.
A Flood Warning means that river levels have exceeded bank full or will exceed bank full imminently and that flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.
Am I in a Risk Area?
Port Coquitlam has two flood plains – the Fraser/Pitt River zone and Coquitlam River zone.
Unusually high snowpacks raise the possibility of flooding, but risk is determined by a combination of:
- Heavy, concentrated rain events
- Heavy rains mixed with spring’s melting snow, creating excessive run-off into rivers and lakes
- Ice jams – water upstream is blocked by ice downstream
- On the coast, seasonally high tides amplified by a severe storm
If rising waters become a threat to your safety, follow the instructions of officials, including those directing traffic, as water can be deeper than it appears. Keep disaster response routes clear.
History of Flooding in BC
British Columbia is a province marked by steep mountain topography, numerous rivers and waterways and experiences periods of heavy rain and snow. Flooding is a regular, seasonal event in many areas. Levels f water in rivers, streams, creeks or lakes fluctuate depending on the snowpack, weather conditions and geography. Homes, businesses, property and infrastructure in some low-lying areas may be particularly susceptible to flood-related damage.
The Lower Fraser Valley is an area of high population density that has been significantly impacted by flooding over the years. Flooding has also hit other settlements including areas around Prince George and Kamloops. Communities in northwest B.C. have also been affected, including Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers and Houston, as well as other areas throughout the province.
The largest Fraser River flood on record occurred in May 1894, when rapid snowmelt caused river levels to rise dramatically, triggering flooding from Harrison to Richmond. The flood was significant in both height and breadth.
In 1948, the second largest Fraser River flood of record occurred. By this time, the lower Fraser Valley was a highly developed agricultural area, with commercial and industrial development and the beginnings of residential development. As well, two transcontinental rail lines and the Trans-Canada Highway had been built through the valley, and the province’s major airport had been established in Richmond. Personal and financial impact was much greater than in 1894. Thousands of people were displaced and infrastructure, including bridges and roads, was significantly damaged.
The Fraser River has reached flood stage 25 times in the last 100 years. The key to reducing personal impacts during any future flooding is to become better prepared. Know the risk in your area, have a family emergency plan and assemble an emergency kit. History shows us that while flood events can’t be stopped, their impact can be reduced by flood risk awareness and personal preparedness.
Go to Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery for more information about personal emergency preparedness.
Flood Proofing Your Property
If you live or own a business or property in an area subject to flooding, you can take steps right now to minimize property damage and personal risk.
Start by being aware of your responsibilities, be mindful of local conditions and know where to go for information well before disaster strikes.
If rising water levels mean you may have to evacuate, listen to local emergency officials for instructions and to know which routes are safe for travel.
Know the Risks and Prepare
- Know if you are in a flood-risk area.
- Watch for warning signs in your nearby environment: increases in water height and intensity in streams and rivers, mudslides, debris in creeks, colour changes in water, leaning trees or cracks developing on hillsides.
- Monitor this website and local newspapers; stay tuned to local radio stations for directions from local officials as to what to do in case of severe flooding risk.
- Know where you can get information about weather reports and current conditions.
- Keep a full gas tank in your vehicle.
- Create an emergency plan that every household member knows. The plan should include information on how to shut off electrical power and natural gas sources, safe meeting places out of the flood-risk area, an out-of-province contact, plans for pets and livestock, and a neighbourhood safety plan that identifies people who may need extra help.
- Put together an emergency supply kit, including at least a three-day’s supply of food and water for each family member. Include a windup or battery-powered radio, flashlight and batteries, prescription medications and important papers.
- Ensure each member of your family has warm clothing and waterproof footwear, and ensure that each family member has identification. Name tags on children’s clothing, wallet cards and wristbands are useful in case you are separated. Remind every member of your household on the location of your family emergency meeting place.
- Make advance arrangements for your pets and any livestock.
When There Is An Immediate Danger of Flood, And if There Is Time
- Move basement furniture and other items to a higher floor.
- Electrical service – Shut off power to your home, but do not attempt to turn off power if the room is already flooded.
- Know how to safely shut off your natural gas – Fortis BC.
- Gas or oil furnaces and appliances – Oil or water tanks will float if not full. If unable to fill, weigh down with sandbags or wedge against a solid object. Propane gas tanks may float whether full or empty you might want to tie a chain or cable around the tank to anchor it and prevent it from floating away.
- Plumbing fixtures and water supplies – Turn off the water supply. Plug all basement sewage connections (toilets, sinks, showers) with a wooden plug or other device. (You can create your own plug by using two garbage bags, one inside the other, and fill with two shovels of sand.) The plug should be held in place with a heavy weight.
- Items that may cause contamination – pesticides, weed killers, fertilizers and other such items should be moved to higher levels.
- Sewer system – To relieve overloading, disconnect any downspouts that drain to them.
- Outdoor items – Move to higher ground all items such as furniture and barbecues that could be damaged by flooding or that may float and cause damage.
- Sandbagging – If you have time to construct a dike, build it on high ground, close to your home. This way, fewer sandbags will be needed and the dike will be less exposed to any nearby streams. Dig a trench one bag in depth and two bags wide as a foundation for the dike structure. A dike must be three times as wide at its base as it is high.
- Polyethylene sheeting – In preparation for severe flooding you may wish to use polyethylene (plastic) sheeting on the exterior lower levels of your home.
If You Must Evacuate
- Always follow the instructions of local emergency officials
- Turn off and unplug all appliances, lock doors and windows.
- Know how to safely turn off all utilities at the main switches or valves.
- Take your grab-and-go emergency supply kit with you.
- Leave a note in your mailbox saying where you’ve gone and inform an out-of-province contact.
- Special consideration needs to be given to those with special needs: tell visually impaired people the nature of the emergency and guide them through any dangerous areas; for those with hearing impairment, write out what is happening and tell them the evacuation procedure.
- Listen to emergency personnel and follow their directions. Do not take shortcuts, as you may end up in a blocked or dangerous area.
- Do not walk through moving water. Water can be deeper than it appears. It only takes 60 cm (2 ft.) to sweep a car away and as little as 15 cm (6 in.) of moving water can cause you to fall.
- Register with the local reception centre if you are evacuated so emergency responders know you are safe and how to reach you.
In the event of a major earthquake or severe storm, some areas of Port Coquitlam may be subject to flooding risk.
In the highly unlikely event that an extreme earthquake causes failure of the Coquitlam Dam, water from behind the dam would flow into City of Coquitlam and residents in the lower areas along the Coquitlam River would be required to evacuate. Please consult the Coquitlam Dam Emergency Inundation Zone and Road Network Map to become familiar with the road network in your area and route to high ground outside the inundation zone.
The Coquitlam Dam resides in the City of Coquitlam and poses some considerations should a large scale earthquake ever occur. In 2008 the dam received significant upgrades, however if a dam breach were ever to occur there would be impacts to the citizens of Port Coquitlam. It is important to note that only under an extremely severe and unlikely event would a dam breach occur. Further to this, the failure of the dam has never qualified as a variable in the HVRA (Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment) index the City performs each year to consider emergency planning needs.
Please refer to the BC Hydro website for more information on dam safety.
Health and Post-flood Information
Flood Preparedness – External Agencies
- Provincial Emergency Program – flood preparation and prevention information
- Red Cross – emergency preparedness information
- Government of Canada – emergency preparedness information
- Government of BC – Flood emergency preparedness and response information
- Fraser Basin Council – Flood hazard management
Pets and Animals
Other Useful Links
Ministry of Transportation: Disaster Response Routes – A network of roads are identified that can best move emergency services and supplies to where they are needed in the event of a major disaster. Public awareness and cooperation is necessary to keep these Disaster Response Routes clear following an earthquake or other disaster in the interest of saving lives and protecting property.
Ministry of Environment: Integrated Flood Hazard Management Home Page – Everything you need to predict flooding, from the Water Management experts at the Ministry of Environment; who does what, and how it is done.
Ministry of Health: Drinking Water Management – General information on how drinking water is managed in B.C. — the surveillance and monitoring of drinking water systems; the enforcement of the Drinking Water Protection Act, the Drinking Water Protection Regulation and the Health Act; and interventions that minimize health and safety hazards.
First Nations Emergency Services Society – FNESS assists First Nations in developing and sustaining safer and healthier communities through various programs and services.
Fortis BC – Flood information for homeowners with natural gas appliances: tips on what to do before a flood, upon evacuation, precautions to take and what to do after a flood.
BC Hydro – Information for homeowners regarding your personal safety, and your home’s electrical safety when you experience a flood, earthquake or wildfire.
BC Safety Authority – Home safety in flood situations: Protect your gas and electrical appliances and systems.
St. John Ambulance, Canada: Health and Safety Training – No matter what you do, it pays to have first aid skills. St. John Ambulance is Canada’s leader in first aid training and products.
Port Coquitlam Emergency Preparedness Office
Location and Mailing Address
#1 Fire Hall
1725 Broadway Street
Port Coquitlam BC
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)