Before a flood
Flood season typically begins in late April in the NWT. The risk of flooding in communities is highest during spring break-up when ice moves unpredictably through rivers during thaw. Watch the video to learn more about flooding in our communities. Download the Be Ready for Floods Planning Workbook
Steps you can take to reduce your risk of flood damage and be ready when floods come
Know the risks
While we don’t know for sure when flooding will happen, there are certain areas at higher risk and the territorial government assesses risk and communicates regularly with at risk communities.
Communities at highest risk
Some communities are at higher risk than others for flooding. these communities include:
- Hay River (Hay River)
- Kátł’odeeche (Hay River)
- Nahanni Butte (South Nahanni River, Liard River)
- Fort Liard (Liard River)
- Fort Simpson (Liard River, Mackenzie River)
- Aklavik (Mackenzie River)
- Fort Good Hope (Mackenzie River)
- Tulita (Mackenzie River)
- Jean Marie River (Mackenzie River)
For community governments
Communities are the frontline for emergency management in the Northwest Territories.
If your community needs help understanding risks in your area, contact your regional Municipal and Community Affairs office – we’re here to help.
Understand financial risk
Floods cause millions in damage annually in Canada. Understanding your financial risk and exploring options is extremely important.
Many assume that flooding is covered in property, home, or business insurance. However, most plans do not – and in the Northwest Territories, many struggle to get basic insurance on their homes at a reasonable price.
Talk to your insurance provider to discuss what would be covered in a flood and explore options so you aren’t financially stressed should a flood come.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Consumer Information line can also help you understand options in the industry:
- Toll Free:1-844-227-5422
Government disaster assistance
When a disaster – defined as an event resulting from an emergency which leads to widespread damage – is declared by the government, there may be financial assistance available to help you recover.
However, not all losses in an emergency will be covered. In general, only 90% of costs up to a maximum of $240,000 may be covered by disaster assistance.
Not all floods will be considered disasters. For example, if a river bank floods and affects very few homes, this will likely not be considered a disaster and government funding may not be available.
Harvesters and trappers with equipment or cabins damaged on-the-land outside communities may also be eligible for assistance to help them rebuild. However, this assistance will also not cover all expenses – so preparation is important.
- Learn more: Disaster Assistance Policy
- Learn more: Harvesters and Trappers Disaster Compensation Program
Protect your property
These steps will reduce your flood damage risk. Many are inexpensive and can be done any time of year.
Steps everyone should take
No matter what the flood risk is or what community you’re in, these basic steps should be followed at your home, business, or organization.
- Keep valuables safe: Store valuables and important items or documents in water-tight containers or in higher places, like on a tall shelf or upper floor
- Keep gutters clear
- Keep nearby storm drains clear of debris
- Keep foundations clear of snow: Clear snow at least 1 to 1.5 metres away from your home's foundation
- Secure your fuel tank: Make sure to anchor any heating oil or propane tanks to the floor or ground. Call your fuel provider for advice. If you rent, talk to your landlord to ensure this is done.
- Ensure water and sewage holding tanks are secured
- Move vehicles and equipment to a safe area
More steps to reduce your risk of damage
These steps are good for anyone wishing to be proactive – and especially important for those living in communities at highest risk of flooding.
- Use flood-resistant landscaping: Enhance your landscaping so water drains away from your foundation.
- Keep important equipment off the ground: If possible ,raise large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters, and electrical panels onto wood or cement above the potential water level.
- Secure any sewage tanks or honey buckets to prevent environmental spills.
- Do flood-resistant home improvements (with the right professional help and permits!):
- Install backflow valves on basement floor drains, washing machine drains, toilets and sink drains
- Install tiled floors with waterproof adhesive and grout
- Raise electrical outlets on the ground floor of your home
- Install a sump pump – a pump moving water from your basement out of your home
- Install gutters and eavestroughs properly: Make sure your gutters’ downspouts extend at least 2 metres from your basement wall. Water should drain away from your property and neighbouring properties.
- Use flood resistant building material: Building design to prevent flood water from entering through walls, floor, doors, etc.
- Protect your gas, electrical systems and appliances: Ensure they are anchored to the ground, floor, or wall.
- Seal key structures: Apply weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors
- Create flood-resistant walkways: Install paving surfaces that allow water to drain through them for sidewalks and driveways. Examples include gravel, spaced pavers, or cobble stones.
If flooding is likely in your area
For communities and residents facing likely flooding, take these steps if there is time before a potential flood event and evacuation.
Always prioritize your own safety and readiness to evacuate, and follow directions from local emergency management officials.
- Empty fuel tanks: work with your local service provider or government to have fuel tanks emptied
- Shut off all power to your home at the breaker panel
- Unplug all electrical appliances
- Remove potential blockages: Clear gutters, drains and downspouts
- Raise furniture: Move furniture, rugs, electronics and valuables to upper floors, or raise them above ground floor
- Raise major appliances: Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re in danger of being flooded
- Move vehicles and equipment to a safe area
- Consider emptying fuel tanks: contact a provider
Resources to help you Be Ready for floods
- Download: Brochure - Prepare for emergencies: floods
- Download: Factsheet - Emptying fuel tanks when floods are likely
- Download: Checklists and tips for protecting your home (Government of Canada)