British Columbia NDP fails in disaster response. Again.

It has been almost a decade since the world ended, as predicted by the Mayans, an advanced civilization living in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula thousands of years ago, which was rich in calendars. elaborate and human sacrifices. The Mayans believed the end would be near by the winter solstice of 2012, which luckily turned out to be as accurate as the dire predictions that planes would fall from the sky and computer systems would collapse due to the bug. the year 2000 at the start of the new millennium. .

In British Columbia, however, it is starting to feel like the Mayans were only on a few trips around the sun.

The country’s westernmost province is currently experiencing its third natural disaster of the year, with much of the Fraser Valley and the town of Merritt underwater, and heavier rains are forecast. Many of its highways and railroads are destroyed, and the city of Vancouver is virtually cut off from the rest of the country.

The extreme flooding follows a brutal heat wave this summer that left hundreds dead, as well as forest fires that caused mass evacuations and burned an entire city. There is of course still a pandemic to face. Even the Vancouver Canucks are a disaster right now, in apparent solidarity with their beleaguered fan base.

Whether hordes of ravenous zombies, an invasion of locusts or aliens from Independence day were to appear suddenly, most British Columbians probably wouldn’t blink at this point.

Also for the third time this year, the provincial NDP government has proven itself woefully incapable of preparing people for impending disaster.

After being heavily criticized for not activating the emergency communications system known as Alert Ready before the wildfires and deadly heat last summer, the province has chosen not to use it again to warn residents of the impending thunderstorm.

British Columbia is also the only province in Canada that has never used the technology, which sends a warning beep and relevant information directly to everyone’s cell phones in the event of a fatal emergency or death. child abduction. By comparison, Ontario has pressed the emergency button more than 200 times since the system was first rolled out nationally in 2018, and neighboring Alberta has used it 80 times. . Even little PEI fired a few. Presumably he would have be used if a child was snatched, but BC’s strategy so far has been to keep it for tsunamis.

It could be argued that warning the public of heavy rainfall in a province that sees a lot of it might not get the widespread attention it deserves, but, at the very least, it could have prevented people from traveling on highways. which were quickly washed. by landslides, blocking countless motorists for days and killing at least one person.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, who is also replacing Prime Minister John Horgan while undergoing cancer treatment, said an alert was considered last week when the town of Abbotsford desperately tried to ‘Evacuate several hundred people after a crucial pumping station was nearly submerged, but the mayor decided it could create mass panic and additional hassle for first responders. Instead, the city opted to go door-to-door to warn affected residents to get out of Dodge.

“This is how these decisions should be made: by the experts on the ground,” a Farnworth defender told reporters last week. “Not by experts on Twitter, but by experts on the ground who deal with the local situation and understand the local conditions.”

Farnworth has pointed out that the Alert Ready system is “not a silver bullet,” but there is no reason why the NDP seems so timid when it comes to using all the tools at its disposal. It’s hard not to suspect that the government is simply overwhelmed when it comes to dealing with recurring climate disasters, especially since it also dragged its feet before declaring a state of emergency. official of last summer’s forest fires. The province belatedly declared the latest state of emergency – which grants broad powers to coordinate federal, provincial and local resources – three days after entire cities had already vanished beneath the waves.

It is normally the responsibility of individual municipalities, rather than the provincial government, to respond to localized emergencies, as they tend to know better what is needed, but this excuse does not really hold up when highways are washed out and that thousands of people are fleeing their homes.

Yes this is not seen as an obvious and urgent emergency, it’s hard to imagine what would be.

“We have indicated that we want a system in place next year,” Farnworth said, but it needs to complement, not overlap, existing local systems.

Hopefully it won’t take a tsunami or other apocalyptic calamity to test it, but that seems a long way off in a province where – in the last year alone – residents have been forced to familiarize themselves with new terms. strange weather like “thermal dome”, “cyclone bomb” and “atmospheric river”.

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