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.

Disaster Recovery Webinar Recording

To view the Disaster Recovery Webinar presented on November 25, 2021, at 10 a.m., click here.

The webinar includes Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) which is a provincial government program designed to assist homeowners, tenants, small business owners and farm owners with funds to cover uninsurable, essential losses to their properties. Who and what is covered as well as details on how to apply for funding. BC Housing also provides information on subsidized housing programs available to RDN residents directly affected by a disaster.

Resources for Flood Evacuees

If you have been evacuated or displaced due to a flood, there are support services available to you.

Canadian Red Cross – When evacuees or residents need support services, the Canadian Red Cross can help. If you have been affected by a disaster and require assistance the Canadian Red Cross provides food, shelter, clothing and essential supplies for up to 72 hours, call 1-888-800-6493.

Financial Support- The Province of BC and the Canadian Red Cross are working together to provide additional financial assistance to help people meet the immediate needs of people evacuated due to flooding. Financial assistance will be provided by the Red Cross to those whose primary residences have been placed on evacuation orders due to the flooding and extreme weather event that occurred Nov. 14- 16, 2021. Eligible households will receive $2,000. To access these supports, evacuated British Columbians need to register with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-863-6582, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time).

Disaster Financial Assistance – After a disaster, the provincial government may be able to provide financial assistance to members of the community who have suffered essential uninsurable losses and damages to their business or residence. You may be eligible for DFA if you are a homeowner or residential tenant, small business owner or farm owner. For more information on the Disaster Financial Assistance Program. Overland Flooding on November 15, 2021 is considered an eligible event. Applications for this event will be accepted until February 12, 2022.

Canadian Mental Health Association – Coping with unexpected emergencies is stressful. If you are in crisis or need help coping with a recent emergency, call 310-6789 (no area code required) to be connected to the BC Mental Health Support Line.

Virtual Mental Health Supports - Virtual services are available for British Columbians who are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges.

BC Housing – If you are in need of housing assistance, whether it be finding a home, subsidized housing or rental assistance, BC Housing may be able to help. Visit BC Housing for more information or access the Emergency Support To Communities brochure.

BC211United Way BC’s long standing free confidential service connecting people to community resources. BC211 delivers information and referral services for community and government programs.

BC’s response to floods and mudslides - B.C. is taking action to help people, businesses and infrastructure recover from floods and mudslides.

HealthLink BC - Flooding can affect your health and safety in a number of ways. You may be required to evacuate if flooding is close to your home. HealthLink BC has provided resources for food safety, flooding and water qualify, health care for evacuees, dealing with stress and trauma, and more.

Ministry of Health: Information for owners of sewer systems in flooded areas is available here.

ServiceBC Support Line - 1-833-376-2452 Telephone for the Deaf: Dial 711

Video Relay Services (VRS) provides sign language interpretation free for registered deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired people.

Lines are open daily (translators available) from 7:30 a.m to 5 p.m. to answer questions related to:

  • Emergency supports
  • Disaster financial assistance
  • Insurance
  • Mental health supports
  • Road conditions and travel
  • Employment Insurance
  • Agriculture
  • Hazardous goods
  • Water quality
  • Utilities
Returning Home After a Flood

Returning to your home after a flood can be overwhelming. The RDN has prepared resources to help you take it one step at a time while prioritizing your health and safety.

Before re-entering your home, please refer to these resources:

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

River and Coastal Flood Maps have recently been developed to better understand the present and future flood hazards to inform land use, emergency planning, and infrastructure management.

Planning for Floods

  • 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


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.

Residents need to fill and place sandbags on their own. More general information can be seen here on flooding and sandbags. 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.

How to build a sandbag dike

You can prevent or reduce flood damage to your home by building a sandbag dike. It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a 1-x-20-foot wall.

Bags required per 100 linear feet of dike:
Height above dike Bags required
1/3 metre 600
2/3 metre 2,000
1 metre 3,400
  • Locate the sandbag dike on high ground as close as possible to your home.
  • Dig a bonding trench, one sack deep by two sacks wide.
  • Alternate the direction of sacks (e.g. bottom layer length-wise with dike, next layer crosswise).
  • Sacks should be approximately half-filled with clay, silt or sand.
  • Tying or sewing of sacks is not necessary.
  • Lap unfilled portion under next sack.
  • Press firmly in place.

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

Sandbag Locations

Sandbags are available at the below locations. Please note that the volunteer firehalls are not always staffed. Please call RDN Emergency Services if assistance is required.

RDN Transit Office

6300 Hammond Bay Road

Nanaimo, BC

Sandbags Only

Please call RDN Emergency Services at 250-390-6565 or Toll Free at 1-877-607-4111 to arrange pick up.

Cranberry Fire Hall

1555 Morden Road

Nanaimo, BC

Sand and sandbags available

Call firehall at 250-754-6068

North Cedar Fire Hall

2100 Yellowpoint Road

Nanaimo, BC

Sandbags Only

Call firehall at 250-722-3122

East Wellington Fire Hall

3269 Jingle Pot Road

Nanaimo, BC

Sand and sandbags available. Accessible behind building.

Coombs-Hilliers Fire Hall # 2

3241 Alberni Hwy

Coombs, BC

Sand and sandbags available.

Call firehall at 250-752-2144

Dashwood Fire Hall # 1

230 Hobbs Road

Qualicum Beach, BC

Sandbags available

Call firehall at 250-752-5434

Nanoose Fire Hall

2471 Nanoose Road

Nanoose Bay, BC

Sand and sandbags available

Call firehall at 250-468-7141