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What If ...

Emergency Preparedness Week Scenarios, May 5-11

In the world of emergency management, the predominant thought is, “What if…” and the remainder of the sentence is usually filled in with worst-case scenarios. We can all mitigate these “what if…” situations if we plan and are prepared.

May 5-11 marks Emergency Preparedness Week here in BC.

It’s a time to go through your emergency kits and 'grab-and-go' bags and refresh and replenish.

It’s time to replace batteries. It’s time to review your Family Emergency Plan, your Out-Of-Area Contact Plan, you Pets Plan, and it’s time to go over these plans with family members to refresh memories. Good preparedness begins with personal preparedness.

On March 20, 2024 our village Emergency Program Co-ordinator, Phil Folkersen and I (Mary Brown, Emergency Support Services Director) gave a presentation in which a lot of information was presented in a relatively short period of time.

I’d like to sift through some of that information and present it again in a “what if…” kind of format.

What if our village was hit with a once-in-a-lifetime storm that brought a huge amount of rain along with huge winds? The mountain slopes above become sodden with water and land and rock slides begin to occur. The wind is taking down many trees, similar to what happened in Stanley Park in 2006. Many houses are damaged by the fallen trees and the rain is pouring into the damaged homes. Power is out. Many roads in the village are impassible. Rock slides have closed the highway north of Lions Bay.

What do you do if you have to evacuate your home? What happens if the Village government feels it is time to tell some people to leave their homes? How are the messages sent?

Let’s start with the simplest scenario. You many choose to evacuate your home at any time. You do not need to await an Evacuation Alert or Evacuation Order. Let your Out-Of-Area contact person know of your plans, take what your feel you will need, remember personal documents and papers, and get somewhere safe. If you leave voluntarily, and you have household insurance, you do not qualify for provincial aid through Emergency Support Services (ESS).

Let’s ramp up the scenario. Village Council, in consultation with the Emergency Program Co-ordinator, feels the situation is worsening. The mayor or CAO declare a State of Local Emergency (SOLE), provincial help is now available to the village, and villagers will be told via village email, door-to-door communications and/or Alertable, that you should be prepared to evacuate upon short notice. This is called an Evacuation Alert. You should pre-register online with ESS through Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA) HERE. Even though you have household insurance, and may not qualify for provincial assistance through ESS, you should register so that your whereabouts and safety are known.

An Evacuation Alert may be rescinded if thing improve, or, if things worsen, an Evacuation Order may be issued.

How are you feeling just reading this? Are your hands sweating, is your mind racing? This is all a lot to take in, so I will leave today’s article with you to think about and talk about. Watch for Part 2 of 'What if…' in the next day or so. In the meantime, please have a look through the provincial emergency preparedness website, HERE. A lot of very good information and resources can be found there.

This is the second in a series of articles by Emergency Support Services (ESS) Manager Mary Brown written specially for Emergency Preparedness Week. Have questions? Leave them along with your comments below, or email us at 

Like what you're reading? For as little as $5/month, you can support local independent journalism by subscribing to The Watershed HERE.

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