B.C. set to use Alert Ready system when next storm strikes in days ahead

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Tractors are seen on a flooded farm in Abbotsford, BC, Thursday, November 25, 2021.Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

British Columbia is set to use a national emergency warning system to generate what could be the most intense rainfall since a tornado two weeks ago, devastated communities and destroyed critical infrastructure, the government announced on Sunday. Of.

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth announced plans to use the Alert Ready system during a briefing on the ongoing hurricane series, which prompted new evacuation orders and saw a major river breach its banks and hit Abbotsford on Sunday. , threatened parts of BC.

The second in a series of atmospheric rivers moved on Saturday and was still dumping rain in some areas 24 hours later, while a third and possibly more severe storm is forecast to hit the south coast on Tuesday.

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“We are in the middle of one of the most intense series of storms we’ve seen in coastal BC,” Farnsworth said.

“More heavy rain means people are facing extremely unstable conditions on the North, Central, South Coast, on Vancouver Island, Abbotsford and Sumas Prairie. Once again, it’s time to get ready.”

New evacuation orders were issued for 56 properties in the Petit Creek-Spius Creek area west of Merritt, BC. To Sumas Prairie.

Alert Ready is a Canada-wide system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts to major television and radio broadcasters as well as via compatible wireless devices.

The system has been available since 2018, but B.C. has faced criticism this year for not using it to warn residents of deadly disasters, including the wildfires that engulfed Lytton, B.C. and the heat dome. destroyed, causing hundreds of deaths.

“BC’s emergency warning system is not meeting the challenges of today’s natural disasters. It is up to this government,” BC Liberal legislator Todd Stone, who represents Kamloops-South Thompson, said during the question period on November 18. said.

“All other provinces are using alert ready systems. They are using it for tornadoes. They are using it for forest fires. They are using it for a range of other natural disasters. We’re not using it here.”

Farnsworth said on Sunday provincial officials are in contact with local governments, First Nations and emergency workers where forecasters predict the worst impacts in the middle of the week. BC is ready to support them with an Alert Ready system if they determine there is a threat to life or public safety, he said.

“Local governments are experts on the ground and emergency managers at the local and provincial levels will continue to coordinate closely in the coming days,” he said.

Officials warned the next storm could be of the same intensity as the rain seen two weeks ago, which destroyed highways, flooded communities and prompted mass evacuations. The next storm is scheduled to hit the central coast on Monday before moving south, with the greatest impact expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Armel Castellan said there is a lot of uncertainty at this stage, and meteorologists expect the impact to be as short as possible, using maximum caution, alertness and preparedness for “very strong storms and swells”. are soliciting.

The River Forecast Center issued a new flood warning for the Coquihalla River.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said crews were assessing “minor” damage along sections of Highways 1, 3 and 99, which were closed as a precaution before the weekend storm. He said the damage included some landslides, fallen trees and other debris.

Farnsworth urged residents of southwestern BC to avoid all non-essential travel in the coming days.

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