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Posted: August 18, 2018

Mayor’s update on evacuation alert

By Mayor Don McCormick

It has been a very eventful 32 hours since the Evacuation Alert was issued for the City of Kimberley.

First of all, thank you to the entire community for how you have responded to this alert. I finally had an opportunity to view many of the comments on social media this morning and am so proud of how you used it to foster encouragement and support rather than panic – as can happen so easily with social media.

We are trying very hard to communicate status as we know and understand it. I know that many might feel that it is not enough, but in the case of pending emergencies, we want to communicate what we know and not speculate.

Mother Nature is cooperating this morning. Higher humidity, low winds, lower temperature – all things that help fight the fires. The only thing that would be better weather-wise is rain.

The BC Wildfire Service is doing an awesome job. I have had the opportunity to be part of briefings and many conversations. They have incredible knowledge and experience with these situations and have used that to build a plan of attack. Air support, heavy equipment and more personnel are arriving. We are in good hands.

The most at risk folks are in the St. Mary Valley, particularly west of the lake. They are evacuated and may not be back to their homes for a while. Our thoughts and encouragement are with them.

The entire country has embraced our dilemma.

The city webpage had a 185,000 reach for the alert notice. I had more than 20 interviews yesterday – media from Vancouver to Toronto and more are scheduled. For our business community, I have tried to emphasize with our Alberta neighbours that it okay to come here as planned. The smoke is no worse here than it is in Calgary or Edmonton!

Search and Rescue, the Fire Department and city workers are delivering Evacuation Alert notices door-to-door this weekend. Some 4,000 need to be delivered so it is taking a while. We are doing this so that everyone is notified, and to identify any at risk folks in the event of an escalation.

Interior Health relocated those in assisted living to Cranbrook over the last couple of days. This is part of the emergency protocol – relocate during the alert when there are no external pressures or stress as exists during an evacuation.

More to come…

Don McCormick is City of Kimberley Mayor.

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