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Storm’s A’brewin: ICBC calls for drivers to prepare as atmospheric river rains forecasted for next week

Victoria, British Columbia — British Columbia body shops be prepared, as weather forecasts for this coming week are calling for the return of atmospheric river rains in the southern tip of the province, meaning that flood-damaged vehicles are likely on the menu for repairers for the foreseeable future.

Many British Columbians became intimately acquainted with the term “atmospheric river” during last year’s late-November flooding that spawned from what is now considered to be the most costly weather-related disaster in the province’s history, incurring more than $450 million in insured damage.

In the effort of preventing a repeat of the environmental and relative social chaos that came from the 2021 storms, ICBC has published a list of tips to ensure B.C. drivers are prepared if they get caught out on the road during one of these severe rainfall events.

Perhaps the most important item on ICBC’s list is an emergency “grab-and-go” kit, where a driver would keep crucial items like non-perishable food, phone and computer chargers, blankets, perhaps a battery-powered radio (and batteries, ideally), cash in small bills—and too often overlooked—fresh socks.

As well, the provincial insurer is reminding drivers that if a sign indicates that a road is closed for flooding, do not test it. Regardless of what you are driving, it is shockingly easy for floodwaters to lift your vehicle from the road and sweep you away.

If you do find yourself being carried by floodwaters or your vehicle is filling with water, a procedure developed by professor Gordon Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba calls for drivers to remember a simple acronym, SWOC: Seatbelts off; windows open; and children out first.

Similarly, flooded roads obscure pre-existing potholes and road damage, often leading drivers to get stuck in places they would otherwise avoid in ideal weather.

B.C. foresees a 90 percent increase in crashes between October and December due to unsavory road conditions, and ICBC is hoping that as these weather events grow in severity, drivers will make more of an effort to prepare for the worst when the rain does come.

ICBC’s full list of flooding safety tips can be found here.

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