Drones Support BC’s Emergency Flood Response

March 22, 2022   |  

Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB) was called to respond to various sites impacted by a series of atmospheric river events that swept across British Columbia in November 2021. These events led to floods and debris flows that caused widespread damage to critical transportation infrastructure, including washouts of several culverts adjacent to our client sites.

A Quick, Safe Response with Drones


Unable to access the site on foot, the team needed a way to perform site investigation and collect data on the extent of the damage. For the past three years, KCB has utilized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to help our clients visualize sites and identify potential issues from different vantage points. During emergency climate events, drones have been a crucial tool in collecting data quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.

A Drone’s Eye View


KCB’s geotechnical professionals carried out an initial assessment of the damage, as well as inspections of the debris flow initiation and runout zones using a drone. Aerial footage gathered from the sites allowed them to quickly identify any hazardous conditions that still existed, as well as assess the volume of material that had been eroded.

Data in the Clouds


Using cloud-based UAV data processing and sharing, KCB was able to quickly share their findings with the client and begin developing design options for a remediated stream crossing. KCB used drones throughout construction to track infill volumes, assess whether ongoing erosion was occurring, and provide regular updates and guidance to the client, including 3D models of the worksite and marked-up sections. The cloud-based UAV processing allowed for a same-day turnaround of data and models.

Rebuilding with Resilience


With KCB’s guidance, the client was able to restore service using a temporary culvert and flume within a week of the washouts. KCB remained on-site to assess the performance of the temporary culvert and provide recommendations on construction of a permanent structure which would be able to withstand future atmospheric river events.


About the Author
Christian Sampaleanu is an Engineering Geologist in KCB’s Power and Transportation group, based in our Vancouver office. His areas of expertise include slope stability, geohazards, geomorphology and rock mechanics.



Categories:   Hydropower