Emergency Operations Centre officials said relaying of rumours, or something more suspicious, has spurred a notice to residents should ensure they have correct information before evacuating their residences due to flooding.
“What we have heard are issues in communities in the Similkameen where people thought it was an evacuation order and leaving their homes when it wasn’t. We don’t know if people are just confused, misread a press release online or if it something more suspicious,” said Cameron Baughen, Regional District of Okanagan-Similakmeen information officer.
If an emergency such as #BCflood threatens your home, an #Evacuation Alert or Order may be issued. Learn the difference & know what to do: https://t.co/tL3dX1QCtq #2018freshet pic.twitter.com/h53LE6zeHl
— Emergency Info BC (@EmergencyInfoBC) May 14, 2018
Residents in flooding areas are reminded to ensure they have official information on evacuation orders before leaving their homes.
If an evacuation is ordered, only first responders such as police, fire, search and rescue or local government staff will come to doors. If approached by a member of the public, residents can check official sources before leaving their homes.
“We are aware people are feeling nervous already so we want to make sure we are ahead of this and ensure people aren’t circulating rumours or putting out wrong info with bad intentions,” said Baughen.
If residents see suspicious activity in their area they can contact the non-emergency number for their local RCMP detachment.
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“If you leave, you can lock your house. There is not reason not to. What we are asking is to leave gates unlatched so we can enter yards to protect property. At no time, even during a fire event, would we enter your home. No one has reason to go inside your residence except first responders coming to an emergency when called,” said Baughen.
Official sites to check information include Drive B.C., the RDOS website and their official Twitter and Facebook accounts. The emergency operations centre and ESS reception centre in Penticton can be reached at 250-490-4225.
All evacuated or self-evacuated persons are asked to register with the reception centre, which is open for residents under evacuation order, those that have severe medical conditions or patients currently under care by the Interior Health Authority.
Baughen said over 2,000 properties are on evacuation alert in the RDOS and that residents should have an emergency evacuation kit ready at their door and taken with them in their vehicles if they are planning to leave their residence for a long period of time.