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What If (Part II)...

ESS Director Mary Brown shares more tips for Emergency Preparedness Week

In the first part of “What if…” I wrote about ESS, ERA and SOLE. I also touched on Evacuation Alert and introduced the idea of an Evacuation Order.

In the spirit of the provincial Emergency Preparedness Week, May 5-11, let’s look at what an Evacuation Order is, and how it affects you. We’ll also look at a tactical evacuation.

Continuing on from our scenario from my last article about land and rock slides, trees down on houses, power outages, and impassible roads, let’s say that things are quickly getting steadily and worse.

Village Council, in concert with emergency responders, assesses that the worsening situation requires that people leave their homes. An Evacuation Order is issued and this will be communicated by Village email, door-to door-communication and Alertable.

An Order means that you are at risk and you must leave your home and the area immediately using the route or routes identified by officials. Evacuation Orders are mandatory and enforced by local authority or the RCMP. If you defy an Order, you are putting your life and the lives of emergency responders at risk. You are restricted to your own property and emergency responders may not be able to return to you to help.

ESS will set up Registration and Referral Centres in neighbouring communities that are not under an Evacuation Order. If you have household insurance, it is still a very good idea to register yourself and family with ESS so that agencies know that you are safe, and where you are sheltering. It is a good thing to self-register through ERA (HERE) to avoid the crowds at a Registration and Referral Centre.

So, you are out of your home and out of the village. Where do you go? This is why it is important to set up an Out-Of-Area emergency contact, such as a friend or family member. The provincial government will provide payment to the person you are staying with and this is done through the ESS Referral Centre or through ERA.

The province is moving away from Group Lodging, where people are housed in gymnasiums or recreation centres. Group lodging is usually only used for large-scale disasters like the flooding in the Fraser Valley, where many migrant workers were left with nowhere to go.

Here in Lions Bay, if we did have access to Broughton Hall (no evacuations), we would be hard-pressed to open a Group Lodging even though we have cots, because we do not have the staffing.

OK…hold onto your seats. Things are going to get even worse!

One of the houses hit by trees did not have their propane tank turned off and the house filled with propane and exploded. This caused a fire in neighbouring houses and the fire is spreading fast.

In this case, first responders could implement a tactical evacuation. It gives responders extraordinary powers to be on your property, cut trees, pull down structures, etc. There is a sudden threat to life and requires immediate action and there is not time to prepare or issue written warnings. For you, it means get out now, now, now.

No one wants the above scenarios to come to fruition. I have worked as an ESS volunteer in other communities and at the Fraser Valley floods. It is heartbreaking and life-changing for the people involved.

While our world is changing with more severe weather events, please be as prepared as you can for the unimaginable.

Think about it, talk about it and plan for it.

This is the third 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 

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Thanks Mary. Excellent information!

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