Dan Albas
Dan Albas

Dan Albas Dan Albas

COLUMN: Preparing for emergencies

Devastation and destruction result from flooding

There is a saying in social media…” I can’t un-see that”…often associated with online posts the depict some sort of rarely seen, almost impossible to comprehend act or event conveniently captured in a manner that generates “likes” for viewers.

Sadly, here in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Fraser Valley and in parts of Vancouver Island this past week, we cannot and will not ever un-see the devastation and destruction caused by record levels of rainfall and resulting flooding.

Merritt, a community more than 7,000 people strong, is currently evacuated.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: B.C. declares state of emergency amid devastating floods, landslides

READ ALSO: Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen coordinates to assist flooded communities

Motorists are still stranded in various places throughout the central and southern regions of B.C. Many grocery stores are running low on some basic groceries. Supply chains, for the moment, are stressed.

For the people in Merritt and Princeton, they are experiencing devastation on a level never before encountered. Both of these communities have also suffered break downs in local infrastructure, with basic community services such as water and sewer being threatened.

As an added challenge, in Princeton, a natural gas line has been compromised and many residents are without heat with a predicted low forecast of -8 overnight.

At the time of writing this report this week from Ottawa, I have just concluded a meeting with our federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair and a number of my colleagues who represent ridings in the Fraser Valley that are also threatened with flooding and evacuation orders.

I would like to publicly thank Blair who has consistently reached out and made himself available through this ongoing disaster.

We have had assurances, both from Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that the federal government will stand by to assist regions of British Columbia severely impacted by these floods and related mud slides.

To the good people of Merritt and Princeton, as well as the surrounding areas, please know that federally we will do everything possible to assist in the days, weeks and months ahead.

My phone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every effort will be made to ensure you are called back as promptly as possible.

There is no question that our region has experienced a challenging six months, between wildfire threats and now serious flooding and mudslides. The resulting damage is yet to be assessed but it will on a massive scale.

Aside from damage to homes, properties, community, and provincial infrastructure, there is also the serious toll on the people who call these areas home and the most impacted.

The reality is that as our climate increasingly changes, we are not as prepared as we need to be for these resulting disasters.

My question this week: What solutions do you believe would most enhance our emergency preparedness?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.

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