Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson

DOERKSON: Getting prepared for flood and fire season

MLA Lorne Doerkson’s column to the Free Press

It’s been a long, cold winter here in the Cariboo, but warmer weather and longer days are on the horizon. This means sunshine, more out-of-town visitors, and community events.

However, the warming weather also marks the start of flood and wildfire seasons, and it’s time for everyone to prepare for the weeks and months ahead and the possibility of further extreme weather events.

I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that water levels are rising throughout the region, pointing to the possible arrival of the spring freshet. We may start to see flooding and washouts on roads, and it would be wise for everyone to get ready. Steps everyone can take to prepare their homes include clearing debris from gutters and downspouts and elevating and anchoring utilities such as heating systems, electrical panels and sockets.

When on the road or outside, it’s important to keep clear of eroded banks as they are likely to be unstable and pose a safety risk. That’s why it’s particularly important to keep children and pets away from the edges of waterways. And of course, with all-weather events, it’s vital to stay alert for changing conditions and possible evacuation notices, particularly if you live in low-lying areas or near bodies of water.

In the same way, we also need to prepare for fires. Already this year we’ve seen a handful of wildfires in our region. It’s a reminder that fires are not just limited to the summer months, and we must be vigilant all year round to prevent fires from breaking out. There are steps we can all take to prevent human-caused fires — ensuring that campfires and controlled burns are entirely put out and never left unattended, making sure to never discard cigarette butts outdoors, and reporting fires whenever we see them.

Additionally, we can prepare our properties to lower the risk of fires by taking steps like removing combustible materials such as shrubs and dead foliage and using non-combustible materials, such as gravel, brick or concrete, in areas adjacent to your home. Clearing leaves and debris from gutters, keeping our lawns well-watered, and avoiding planting flammable plants can further protect our homes from the risk of fire.

I know that many of us are still exhausted from the devastating fires and floods of last year, with some of us still picking up the pieces and working towards full recovery. It’s a long road, and one that desperately needs further action from government.

I hope that in the year ahead, our NDP government gets ready to better prepare and better support our communities through climate-related disasters and sticks around to provide relief through the recovery that follows.

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