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With strong storm on the way, B.C. government warns public to prepare for flood risk

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B.C.'s Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness has taken the unusual step of issuing a public warning several days before an upcoming storm.

The ministry says residents of the South Coast can expect stormy weather from now until next Thursday, with the heaviest rain falling on Monday and Tuesday.

"Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) forecasts a series of storms culminating in a narrow band of heavy precipitation for the west coast of British Columbia, including the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley," the ministry said in its statement.

"Otherwise known as an atmospheric river, narrow bands of heavy precipitation such as this are common in British Columbia and many occur every year, most frequently in the fall and winter."

Still, with the memory of November 2021's atmospheric-river-triggered catastrophic flooding barely two years old, the ministry is encouraging people to take precautions.

"With four days left before the peak of the event, there is uncertainty in the storm track and therefore total amounts of snow followed by rain (on snow) also remain uncertain," the ministry said.

"While this upcoming wet and stormy weather is seasonally typical, the province is prepared to take actions to keep people and communities safe in the event of flooding."

Among these actions, according to the ministry, are holding "regular regional co-ordination calls with First Nations and communities," and preparing to deploy up to four million sandbags to local governments as needed.

The ministry said it is also prepared to deploy "10 kilometres of gabions, which are wall-like structures filled with sand, and 32 kilometres of tiger dams, which are stackable orange tubes filled with water."

The B.C. River Forecast Centre is monitoring river levels and forecasts and will issue advisories and warnings if they are necessary, the ministry said.

"People are asked to take precautions to ensure personal safety, including developing a household plan, putting together emergency kits, connecting with neighbours and learning about the local government emergency response plan for their area," the ministry said.

Additional advice for dealing with the coming storm can be found in the ministry's statement.  

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