By James Morneau, Canadian Red Cross volunteer
 
With snow melting, sun shining and summer on its way, volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross headed out on the streets and dirt roads of Rocky View County, Alberta in April.

Canadian Red Cross volunteer James MorneauA few small steps go a long way in preventing significant water damage to the home. That’s why Red Cross volunteers walked through several flood-prone communities in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario to spread the word about easy ways to reduce the impacts of flooding.

I was part of a volunteer team that walked between homes in Bragg Creek, Langdon and Beiseker from March 30 to April 17, speaking to residents. These communities were chosen because they have experienced severe flooding in the past.

This door-to-door effort is part of a pilot project launched by the new Disaster Risk and Reduction  program developed in partnership with the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo. The purpose is to determine if one-on-one conversations with Red Cross volunteers can increase flood risk awareness and encourage cost-effective and practical action at the household level to reduce and prepare for flooding.

Recent research has shown that, on average, only six per cent of Canadians are aware of the flood risks in their area.  But simple actions inside and outside the home can have a big impact when flood water is suddenly threatening.

When we think of flooding, it’s easy to imagine a muddy, overflowing river, but often, overland flooding can occur where there are no significant bodies of water, but grey water backup can still accumulate in home basements. Installing a backwater valve will prevent this backflowing from the sewer system.

Together, my team members and I shared many other simple tips like: Outside, covers can be put over below-grade basement windows, downspouts extended, eavestroughs cleaned and sidewalk drains cleared from debris. Inside, floor drains can be cleared of clutter, and valuables stored in water-tight containers.

Sump pumps, designed to pump out excess water that has accumulated on the basement floor, can also be installed. It’s important to consider having a backup power supply, as well, just in case power is lost during an emergency.
  
Now, with the conclusion of the pilot study, the Red Cross will evaluate the success of this door-to-door method for educating and working with communities.