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Stay Safe: Rural Community Flood Preparation 

For rural communities, flood preparation is incredibly important to ensure livestock and vital property is protected. Also, given the remoteness of these communities, a safety plan that identifies unsafe areas is important to ensuring individuals and families know where to go in the event of an emergency. 

Outside of basic flood preparedness, individuals living in rural communities should consider the following best practices: 

  • Determine your flood risk by checking your risk from rivers and other sources. Also, consider looking into the history of your property to determine if flooding has been a concern. If flood risk is high, have an evacuation kit prepared in advance[1]
    • Evacuation kits can include; handling equipment, water, feed, buckets, medication, tools and sanitation supplies, cell phone, flash light, radio, batteries, basic first aid kit, and a gas powered generator.  
  • Read the Farm Animal Emergency Preparedness Guide prepared by the Government of Canada.
  • Look for potential hazards in relation to water sources: locate manure, fuels and lubricants, pesticides, herbicides, batteries and sources of electricity. Construct farm sites to minimize the opportunity for materials to be washed into a water source. 
  • Create a Farm Emergency Plan
    • Rural Emergency Plan (REP) is an emergency response map completed by a rural landowner. Once completed, REP’s are stored in a PVC tube holder and kept in an accessible and identifiable area, such as a main power line pole. REP’s are meant to communicate information emergency personnel may need to make decisions quickly and effectively. 
    • The following should be included in you REP: 
      • A map of your land and location of hazardous substances and emergency supplies, a runoff map of the property, emergency contact information, inventory of machinery and livestock on the property, a REP checklist and other information you think is essential to emergency personnel. 
      • Click here for your own copy of the Rural Emergency Plan for Rural Landowners.
  • If a flood warning has been issued secure potable water as drinking water sources may become contaminated. Ensure you have enough potable water for yourself, your family, and livestock.
  • Locate elevated areas or escape routes on your property where animals could be relocated or valuable/hazardous materials stored. This area should be large enough to shelter people and livestock. Also access to areas prone to flooding should be restricted[2]
  • As it appropriate, inspect dams and canals annually to address maintenance issues and structural integrity of structures. Look for saturated soil at the base of the dam (which could lead to collapse if there is additional water or pressure) and consider other engineering solutions to alleviate pressure during an emergency[3]
  • Ensure livestock have visible identification such as a brand, this way livestock can be identified if they escape to other property during a flood[4]
  • Have an emergency protocol in place that includes emergency contacts such as; employees, neighbours, veterinarians for farm animals, and emergency services. An emergency protocol should also have a plan for after the flood occurs and steps that need to be taken as quickly as possible[5]
  • In the event of a power outage, keep a battery powered radio and stay informed of emergency alert updates, decide whether or not it is better to stay or evacuate the area, use back-up power but be sure to run generators outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure livestock have appropriate ventilation, and unplug electrical equipment to prevent a power surge[6]

Flood preparedness is important no matter where you live. For rural communities, however, flood preparation can make a large difference in emergency response and limit destruction. Individuals and families living in rural areas should consider the flood preparedness strategies mentioned above to ensure the safety of themselves, their livestock and property. 

 

[1] “Prepare for a flood and get help during and after.” Government of United Kingdom. https://www.gov.uk/prepare-for-a-flood/find-out-if-youre-at-risk  

[2] Forsythe, LeeAnn. “Protecting Livestock during a flood.” http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/avg1104_pg_4  

[3] “Farm Flooding Preparedness.” Government of Alberta. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/com14391   

[4] Forsythe, LeeAnn. “Protecting Livestock during a flood.” http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/avg1104_pg_4 

[5] “Livestock Preparedness and Recovery.” Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. http://texashelp.tamu.edu/005-agriculture/livestock-preparedness-recovery.php  

[6] “Emergency Preparedness for Rural Communities.” Halton Region. http://www.halton.ca/living_in_halton/emergency_preparedness/emergency_preparedness_for_rural_communities/