Residents of a Sicamous mobile home park are being asked to look out for one another should an evacuation alert occur due to a debris flow.
On March 31, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the District of Sicamous hosted a town hall meeting at the Sicamous Seniors Centre.
The meeting’s purpose was to update residents of the Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park on the early warning system that’s being launched in response to the heightened risk of landslides in the Wiseman Creek area.
The province confirmed in late March it would fund the $30,000 warning system so it could be in place by April 1. This was after the District of Sicamous council agreed to fund the cost as there had been no indication the province was going to.
“April 1 to June 30 is our high risk time, that’s when we’re going to get lots of rain, that’s when we’re most likely going to see slides happen…,” explained CSRD protective services team leader Derek Sutherland at the March 31 meeting.
Sutherland explained the early warning system, in short, will alert residents of the mobile home park when they need to evacuate.
“It tells us when we’re going to reach a certain forecasted rain event that is either possible, likely or very certain to bring down a debris flow in the Wiseman Creek drainage,” said Sutherland.
“Out of that information, we’re going to make decisions with the District of Sicamous…when to put out an evacuation alert and when you’re put on an evacuation order.”
An evacuation alert requires residents to be prepared to evacuate on short notice, while an order requires immediate evacuation.
Sutherland stressed the alert system is new and may still be tweaked, and there may be times when residents are asked to evacuate multiple times.
“The tool isn’t perfect so we can’t be 100 per cent accurate all the time and we err on the side of caution…,” said Sutherland.
When there is an alert, people will be notified through the Alertable app and on social media. A notice will also be posted on the mail/newspaper box at the mobile park. To make sure everyone at the park receives an alert, Sutherland asked that residents help spread the word to their neighbours.
“Just that little extra goes so far to helping people survive this kind of event,” said Sutherland.
Residents on alert are asked to go to the Sicamous Seniors Centre, where Shuswap Emergency Program volunteers will assist evacuees.
When there is an evacuation order, said Sutherland, that means rain has been forecast that may bring down a debris flow.
“We’re going to ask you to leave and come straight here to the seniors centre,” said Sutherland.
“If you need supports, we’ll give you supports, we’ll put you up in a hotel room. Cathy Semchuk’s great volunteers, they’re Sicamous helping Sicamous, they’re going to be here to support you. I know many of you have already preregistered for those supports.”
To register for evacuation assistance, visit ess.gov.bc.ca.
The early warning system was one of the options recommended by BGC Engineering following its assessment on the impact the 2,500 hectare Two Mile Road wildfire in 2021 had in the area of Sicamous and Wiseman creeks.
BGC found the fire had left terrain above the Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park unstable, creating a high risk of a debris flood, and possibly a debris flow.
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