An emergency evacuation plan for Gabriola is under development and expected to be completed by February, but what’s the plan if an evacuation needs to happen before then?
The Regional District of Nanaimo has a regional emergency plan that outlines what to do for any emergencies or disasters that might occur in the region, including evacuations. It breaks down a slew of responses such as the emergency operations centre functions and responsibilities, public notification and information, logistical considerations, critical infrastructure and financial matters.
The evacuation route plan in development for Area B will provide specialized information for the area, but evacuation plans are only part of the suit of procedures and plans the RDN uses to respond to an emergency. Other components include community wildfire preparedness plans, flood risk assessments and flood plain maps, departmental operational emergency plans and neighbourhood emergency preparedness plans.
Different legislations cover different types of evacuations, Catherine Morrison, RDN manager of emergency services, explained.
“For urgent evacuations with little warning, the incident commander or any authorized first responder agency can order a tactical evacuation. Tactical evacuations are done at the site level with door-to-door notifications by the first responder agencies.”
If there isn’t enough time to go door-to-door, loudspeakers could be used.
“If time permits, the RDN has developed evacuation notification kits that have been provided to first responder agencies for the evacuation team to document and check every premise and use ribbons of biodegradable, colour-coded, labeled tape to indicate evacuation status of all premises,” Morrison said.
When a prolonged evacuation is called for, such as during a wildfire, a formal state of local emergency would be called and an evacuation order issued. The RDN encourages all residents to sign up for emergency alerts, which can be done at www.rdn.bc.ca/voyent-alert.
Strategic evacuations happen when there is enough time to issue formal documentation, Morrison added; an evacuation alert would be issued ahead of the event to provide time to prepare.
For more information on what to do in an evacuation, go to www.rdn.bc.ca/evacuations.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder