Freshet FAQ’S (Frequently Asked Questions)

Updated April 28, 2020

This webpage contains answers to questions that typically arise when the risk of a Fraser River flood is elevated due to higher than normal snowpacks. For updates specific to this year's freshet, click here.

1. What should people do to minimize damage to their homes if they are going to be away during the freshet?
Although the risk of a major flood occurring in any given year is relatively low, the possibility does exist. Residents must judge for themselves the threat to their property in the event of a flood and take what measures they deem necessary. Residents are advised to obtain Fraser River flood forecast information, either from the City of Chilliwack or the BC River Forecast Centre. Information can be downloaded from the Emergency Management BC website. Regular freshet updates are also available at the BC River Forecast Centre website.

2. How can I know if I am at risk?
Even if there are large snowpacks in the Fraser River watershed, it is difficult to predict whether or not there will be a serious flood because spring weather plays a critical role. It is also difficult to predict the specific impact of an event. Please check the map of possible floodplain areas [click here]. Even those on higher ground could be impacted by an interruption in services such as hydro, gas or water.
The best thing for people to do now is to review or establish personal and neighbourhood emergency plans and also consider family members or friends who may need additional assistance.

3. What is the elevation of our area?
The City of Chilliwack has a floodplain elevation map available. Please click here to view elevation levels (8.77 MB). More elevation data is also available at (Select "Spot Elevations" under the Environment layer).

4. What should people do if they are given an Evacuation Order?
It is very important that residents follow the directions of emergency services personnel. As soon as advised, those affected should leave their homes or businesses and go either to friends and relatives in unaffected areas or to the designated registration and reception centre. Generally, we will attempt to provide early warning, giving people a chance to remove themselves and their treasured belongings in advance. However, this is not always possible.

Whether you choose a private location or a reception centre, all residents are asked to register or leave word with neighbours so emergency personnel know you are safe. [Click here for more info on Evacuation Orders]

5. How will we know if we are being evacuated?
Regular bulletins will be issued to all major media and be posted on the City website. Those in high-risk areas will receive an early warning notification. In Chilliwack, we will use Star FM (98.3) and The Drive (89.5) as well as regional media. In the event of a large-scale evacuation, personnel will go door-to-door.

6. How much notice will a person have that their area is going to flood?
While it is difficult to predict, weather patterns and forecasts will be the primary indicator of Fraser River water levels, and the City relies heavily on the BC River Forecast Centre for regularly updated flood forecasts.

7. In the event of a flood, how long would it be before the water recedes?
In general, the exact time frame and level of high water is entirely dependent on weather patterns. A rapid heating pattern would result in higher water levels over a shorter duration, and a cooler pattern in lower water levels over a longer duration.

8. What will happen to the sewer systems if there is a flood?
If there is high water, that is, flooding of the unprotected areas outside of the setback dikes, the sewer system will not be impacted, as the Water Pollution Control Plant is situated inside of the setback dikes along Wolfe Road. If flooding of the community in the vicinity of the Water Pollution Control Plant were to occur, however, the Plant could be rendered incapable of treating sewage and sewer backups may occur.

9. Would our water supply be affected in any way?
The community's water supply comes from wells located outside of the flood plain in the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, which would not be impacted by a Fraser River flood. However, in the event of a catastrophic flood, the water distribution system in lower areas of the community could be impacted.

Contact Information:

Residents can obtain information on the freshet from the following sources:
City of Chilliwack Freshet Updates
BC River Forecast Centre
Emergency Management BC (EMBC)

For more information, please contact:
Freshet Information Line - (604) 793-2757
Chilliwack Emergency Program - (604) 792-8713