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Flooding

Flooding is a natural and often seasonal hazard that can be extremely disruptive and can pose a threat to animal and human health.

Livestock Evacuation Documentation Form

The most common cause of flooding is rain and/or snow melt that accumulates faster than it can be absorbed into the soil, drainage, or water bodies. Not only can flooding cause immediate issues with rising water levels, but it can also disrupt services and create broader public health concerns.

By assessing the threat of flood and being prepared, producers can improve their readiness for an emergency. The risk of flooding will depend on the geographical location (e.g., proximity to creeks, streams, and rivers) as well as topographical features (e.g., drainage basins, low lying land).

Term

Description

High Stream Flow Advisor

River levels are rising or likely to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected

Minor flooding is possible

Flood Watch

River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed the banks

Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur

Flood Warning

River levels have exceeded the top of the bank or will surpass it imminently

Flooding will occur in areas near affected rivers

Livestock tips during a flood

  • Unconfined animals can usually take care of themselves during a flood
  • The farmer’s goal should be keeping livestock high and dry
  • Your local emergency coordinator can provide up-to-date flood information and forecasts

Preparation

There are activities that can be completed prior to a flood that will better prepare producers in the event of an emergency including:

  • Reviewing local or provincial floodplain map and assessing flooding potential
  • Identifying locations where livestock can be moved, on-site and/or off-site, including evacuation route
  • Mapping out safe locations and routes
  • Identifying livestock haulers that could assist in livestock movement on short notice, if applicable
  • Identifying higher ground for equipment relocation (e.g., motors, tractors, tools), pesticides, fertilizer, or other chemicals
  • Identifying electrical power switches/breaker to shut off power to areas where flooding is imminent
  • Locating feed, bedding material, medications, etc., in areas unlikely to be flooded
  • Considering methods of moving feed and water to low flood risk locations
  • Checking that backup generators are in working order and extra fuel is available in the event of a power outage
  • Test sump pumps regularly and install a back-up system (e.g., battery back-up or generator)

Response

The necessary approach during a flood will depend on various factors including river or stream levels, winter snow load, ground conditions, and current and forecasted precipitation.

It is important to stay informed of situation developments and relocation instructions as they are communicated through online channels, television, radio, and social media. Always follow evacuation orders and ensure human safety first.

Actions to consider if an evacuation order is issued and time permits movement of animals:

  • Arrange trucks, trailers, drivers, and handlers to move animals if necessary
  • Use pre-arranged route to move livestock to a location where they will be safe from the flood (high ground) whether that be on-farm or off-farm
  • Turn off electricity to barns and other structures to prevent fires or electrocutions
  • Ensure animals have access to food, clean water, and ample living area
  • If there is a possibility that dairy barns may become inundated, drive cattle out of the barn. During rapid rise of water, cattle often refuse to leave the barn and may drown inside if the water rises high enough. For this reason, begin evacuation measures before a state of emergency
  • Opening gates and/or cutting fences will allow animals to move and avoid the flood if livestock cannot be moved to a pre-determined safe area. If animals are set free, local authorities should be notified immediately
  • Block off narrow passageways where animals would be unable to turn around. A few heavy animals in a narrow dead end can be dangerous