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Natural Disasters On The Island

Natural disasters can strike anytime at any place, and they can range from fires, power outages and earthquakes. Islanders, however, face particular sets of challenges.
The coast of British Columbia is full of natural wildlife, gorgeous beaches, and smiling people. Unfortunately, the coast of British Columbia is also close to the Juan De Fuca tectonic plate. And when tectonic plates shift, earthquakes can happen. For inland people, earthquakes aren’t always a huge issue. But, when an earthquake happens on an island, the water around the island shifts, meaning the possibility of tsunamis. There hasn’t been one in a very long time, but it is still a genuine possibility.

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Vancouver island is also covered in a lush forest. Just as we’ve seen across the interior of B.C., forest fires can happen on Vancouver Island too. They often leave trails of destruction, destroying property, buildings, and landscapes in general. They can be started by lightning, fireworks, or by people. B.C. is known for its dense forests, and while we are generally lucky to have such a rich landscape spanning the province, this landscape does not come without risk. Finally, since many spaces on the island are habited by people in urban settings, mass power outages are another issue that islanders face. Outages can be caused by falling trees, telephone poles or freak accidents. All of us have likely experienced a power outage before and know the hindrance that it can bring. Rural areas are disproportionately affected by power outages because it often takes local authorities more time to get out to the interruption site. This is even more of a pressing issue when the threat of electrocution, roadblocks, or large obstacles like trees pose a danger to citizens.
Anything could happen at any given time. Whether it’s a forest fire, a mass power surge, or a tsunami, it always pays off to be prepared. And although there is a wide range of possibilities for natural disasters, sometimes steps towards preparedness can cover multiple bases. For instance, evacuation is a possibility in many types of natural disasters. Having an evacuation plan with your family is a good step, knowing where to meet in case of emergency (and having a backup plan if the first one is impossible). Having supplies stored away in case of evacuation is also key, as often, timelines can be uncertain as situations develop. It’s better to be safe and assume that you will need to rely on resources away from home for a while. There are many more strategies and supplies available in order to be prepared for emergencies, many of which are available on getmykit.ca. Ultimately, natural disasters vary and are unpredictable. Sometimes they are caused by the weather alone; other times, foul play or man-made accidents contribute. No matter the cause of the disaster, it is important to be prepared for the outcome.  
Written by MWP Staff: Eva Almgren
Top photo in post graphic by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

British Columbia Interior Faces Flooding Once Again

Flooding in British Columbia is a common and unfortunate reality for many Canadian residents. Property damage, loss of homes or personal belongings, injury and even death are among the situations faced when flooding occurs. Currently the Central Okanagan is suffering from yet another unusual amount of flooding due to heavy rain fall. With the ground already saturated from snow melt, there is nothing to absorb the rainfall. “We’re getting our ducks in a row, mapping out what properties will be impacted and figuring out how best to instruct home owners to protect themselves, what kind of protection works best— whether that be sandbags or the Tiger dams —and how we can facilitate that.”- City Staff quote. Rapid snow melt, ice jams and heavy rainfall are factors that can play into flooding causes. This paired with unprepared communities can be devastating for homeowners and residents. Warm temperatures speed up the spring snow melt, resulting in runoff surges between April to July. 2017 was a devastating time for floods in BCs interior residents with flooding worse than it has ever been since 1990.  Timeline of events for the 2018 Flood Season:
  • April 26 - Property owners are told to get prepared, CORD opens their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)
  • April 27 - CORD provides sandbags to residents as needed
  • April 29 - Evacuation Orders for Killiney Beach neighborhood and the Nazko Valley are issued
Visit the Central Okanagan Regional District website for further updates (https://www.regionaldistrict.com/).  If you live in this region, be sure to sign up for email alerts. The CORD Emergency Operations Team recommends the following:
  • Install “No reverse” flow valves for basements flood drains
  • Consider investing in a sump pump to help pull water away from your home
  • Move toxic, harmful or potential harmful substances, along with electrical appliances to above ground level floors
  • Seal cracks in foundation, doorways and windows
  • Stock up on sandbags, look into “wet-proofing” systems for your home
  • Purchase emergency supply kits for your home, car and work (plan for at least a three-day supply of food and water for each family member)
  • Have a grab-and-go kit ready if you have to leave your home quickly
  • Keep important papers in watertight containers and have a record of your valuables in a safe place
  • If flooding is likely in your area, pay attention to the local media for information
  • Watch for warning signs: increase in height and intensity of water flows, mudslides, debris in creeks, colour changes in water or leaning trees
  • Know that banks of rivers and streams may be unstable and dangerous
  • Keep a safe distance away from fast flowing water, especially children
  • Teach your children about flood safety
  • Consider arrangements for your pets and any livestock
Putting emergency systems in place are only one way to protect your home during flooding, it is critical that your family and neighbours have an evacuation plan in place, along with a grab and go style emergency bag with everything you need for a minimum 72 hours, including food and water rations, first aid supplies, clothing, sanitary items- such as soap, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, baby food and formula (if applicable), lighting sources, emergency blankets, whistle, multi-function knife. Keep a close eye on emergency management websites for your regional district. Preplanning evacuation routes- know the dangers with each route. Water boil advisories are often put in place during flooding due to water contamination with the rising water levels. Total damages and homes affected are not yet able to be reported on as the numbers are still being put together and damages are so extensive, the numbers have yet to be rendered. Sources: https://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/heavy-rain-causes-floods-in-the-central-okanagan/ https://www.cordemergency.ca/  
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