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Floods

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 thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or man-made dam.

What to do:

Flood facts

  • A heavy rainfall can result in flooding, particularly when the ground is still frozen or already saturated from previous storms.
  • Flash flooding – in which warning time is extremely limited – can be caused by hurricanes, violent storms or dams breaking.
  • Many Canadian rivers experience flooding at one time or another. The potential for flood damage is high where there is development on low-lying, flood-prone lands.

Provincial and territorial information

Each province and territory responds to floods in cooperation with local authorities. In some cases, the federal government may be asked to assist. The majority of provinces and territories have information online on the flood situation in their area, as well as practical information for dealing with floods.

Federal Role

The Government of Canada's Government Operations Centre (GOC) monitors the flood situation across the country. The GOC coordinates the federal government's response to events of national interest, such as floods, that may affect the safety and security of Canadians or critical infrastructure. Should a provincial or territorial government request assistance to deal with a flood, then the GOC would coordinate the Government of Canada response.

The Government of Canada has disaster assistance programs available to respond to the financial needs of provinces and territories in the wake of major natural disasters including the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.

Several other forms of assistance may be available, from both the federal and provincial/territorial governments to address certain needs or to assist specific economic and social sectors affected by a disaster. A list of these programs is available from the Public Safety Canada website.