Important information for Whistler residents about flood insurance
Have you checked with your insurance provider to see if you can get overland flood insurance?
Flood insurance has recently become available in British Columbia, which may impact your eligibility for Disaster Financial Assistance after an overland flood.
As a result of this change, if a flood occurred in Whistler an applicant who could have reasonably and readily purchased overland flood insurance would NOT be eligible for financial support under British Columbia’s Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) Program.
The Province is closely monitoring the availability of overland flood insurance in British Columbia and will continue to deliver DFA in accordance with existing legislation. If a flooding disaster occurred and DFA was authorized for the disaster event, an applicant who could have purchased overland flood insurance would NOT be eligible for DFA. It is in a homeowner or tenant’s interest to purchase overland flood insurance. People should not rely on DFA as a substitute for insurance. DFA is disaster aid; it is not a government insurance program.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) recommends you check with your insurance provider to determine if flood insurance is available through your insurance policy.
Whistler has a long history of flood events. Any area in Whistler near a river, stream or creek could experience flooding. Low-lying areas and neighbourhoods are particularly prone to flooding.
You can help keep your family safe by preparing in advance for a flood and a potential evacuation alert or order. Develop a household plan, put together your emergency kit, and know what to do if you are asked to evacuate.
RMOW Flood Hazard Specific Guide
The RMOW has developed a new Flood Hazard Specific Guide detailing how the RMOW will prepare for, and respond to, a flood event in the RMOW.
While rainfall amounts are the primary driver of flooding in Whistler, there are a variety of factors that increase flood risk including stream flow conditions, freezing levels, snowpack composition and depth, and soil saturation levels. Staff will use the tool to assess conditions to determine if a weather forecast warrants monitoring, early flood preparations, or aggressive flood preparations by the RMOW.
In addition to forecasting and preparation tools the Flood Hazard Specific Guide details the municipality’s flood response, once flooding is imminent or already occurring.
The RMOW, as the local diking authority, performs annual monitoring and surveying of Fitzsimmons Creek and Whistler Creek.
If survey results show that gravel needs to be removed to maintain flood protection, the work is done at the end of August or early September so as to minimize environmental impacts. Work is done with authorizations from the federal and provincial governments and in strict accordance with engineering recommendations and environmental management plans.
Before a flood
To reduce the likelihood of flood damage:
- Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
- Install drainage for downspouts a sufficient distance from your residence to ensure that water moves away from the building.
- Consider installing a sump pump and zero reverse flow valves in basement floor drains.
- Do not store your important documents in the basement. Keep them at a higher level protected from flood damage.
If a flood is forecast:
- Monitor whistler.ca for updates or tune to local radio station 102.1 Mountain FM for information on affected areas, safe driving routes, and instructions on what to do if emergency responders ask you to leave your home.
- Turn off basement furnaces and the outside gas valve.
- Take special precautions to safeguard electrical, natural gas or propane heating equipment.
- If there is enough time, consult your electricity or fuel supplier for instructions on how to proceed.
- Shut off the electricity only if flooding has not yet begun and the area around the fuse box is completely dry. Stand to the side of the breaker panel and look away from the panel when switching the power off. Have a flashlight with you.
If flooding is imminent:
- Move furniture, electrical appliances and other belongings to floors above ground level.
- Remove toxic substances, such as pesticides and insecticides from the flood area to prevent pollution.
- Remove toilet bowls and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper.
- Disconnect eavestroughs if they are connected to the house sewer.
- In some cases, homes may be protected with sandbags.
- Do NOT attempt to shut off electricity, if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal. Leave your home immediately and do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
During a flood
Never cross a flooded area:
- If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away.
- If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters or underpasses. The water may be deeper than it looks and your car could get stuck or swept away by fast water.
- Avoid crossing bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
- If you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.
After a flood
Re-entering your home
- Do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
- If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
- Use extreme caution when returning to your home after a flood.
- Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified electrician.
- The main electrical panel must be cleaned, dried, and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.
- Depending on where you live, your municipal or the provincial inspection authority is responsible for the permitting process required before your electric utility can reconnect power to your home.
Ensure building safety
- Make sure the building is structurally safe.
- Look for buckled walls or floors.
- Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass and other potentially dangerous debris.
- Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.
- If you suspect (because of colour, odour or taste) that your drinking water has been contaminated, don't drink it.
- Discard flood-damaged household items according to local regulations.
- Store all valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until needed. (After your cleanup, consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained).
- Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
Register the amount of damage to your home with both your insurance agent and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Ask the municipality if the event is eligible for Disaster Financial Assistance.