Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada. They can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a think snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or human-made dam. The region contains a variety of freshwater features including a large number of rivers, lakes, and streams. There are three major floodplains within the region: the Nanaimo River Floodplain; the Little Qualicum River floodplain; and the Englishman River Floodplain. Each of these rivers has a notable flooding history.

There are a number of things you and your family can do to ensure you are safe outdoors during the flood season. If you're going for a hike, check your local media for information and announcements regarding flood potential in the area you are in or going to, and stay alert for changing conditions. Let someone know your departure and anticipated return time and your destination, and be very aware of pets and children near fast flowing streams or rivers. Lastly, have your emergency supply kit on hand!

In the event of a flood, it is important to know what to do, where to seek information and what to take with you or leave behind.


  • Be knowledgeable of building set backs from watercourses
  • Know how to shut down your main power system(s)
  • Be aware of how to unplug all appliances, big or small
  • Have bags packed in case you need to leave on short notice
  • Learn More Here

Experienced flooding?

Review the below resources for helpful information. 

Just as with general Evacuation Stages, there is a series of warnings to the public regarding floods issued by the River Forecast Centre.

  • HIGH STREAMFLOW ADVISORY - River levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.
  • WATCH -  Government or agency awareness of a possible threat and monitoring of the situation increases. River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.
  • WARNING - Public information when a threat is imminent and immediate measures to minimize or prevent damage to property and infrastructure are initiated. River levels have exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.

Harm Prevention measures may include:

  • A Flood Evacuation Alert for residents to be prepared to evacuate, or
  • A Flood Evacuation Order is a mandatory order for residents to evacuate under the authority of a State of Emergency
  • Declaration. For more specific information on evacuation stages and powers of local authorities in emergencies or disasters, please read the article Evacuation Information and Procedures.

In 2019, the RDN completed a Flood Risk Assessment as part of the National Disaster Mitigation Program to inform the next steps to disaster risk reduction activities while increasing the capacity and resiliency of the region as a whole. 

Flood Risk Assessment 2019

Coastal Flood Hazard Maps have also been developed as part of the Sea Level Rise and Climate Adaptation program designed to use the latest approaches in science and engineering to better understand flood hazards and identify applicable flood mitigation options to reduce the risk of flooding. 

Relevant News Releases / Alerts

  • There are currently no alerts


During the wet fall/water season, residents are recommended to prepare early if residing in an area prone to flooding, and to keep sandbags in place until spring if in use. Sandbags are available at both the Coombs/Hilliers and Dashwood Volunteer Fire Halls if needed by local residents for flood prevention. 

Residents need to fill and place sandbags on their own. More general information can be seen here on flooding and sandbags. It takes two people about 1 hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a 1-foot-by-20-foot wall. Make sure you have enough sand, sandbags, shovels and time to prepare properly. If you require assistance filling and placing sandbags, please contact your neighbours, family and friends. 

Below is a video that shows how to properly fill and place sandbags: