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Preparedness Week 2019

Preparedness Week saw things happening in Grand Forks from April 11 to 13th

Beginning on April 11 with a presentation on Your Finances After The Flood from Grand Forks Credit Union and Community Futures hosted by Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy at Selkirk College.

On April 12 and 13th 2 blocks of Market Ave. in Grand Forks were closed to traffic so a number of demonstrations and information booths could be set up for preparedness week

One of the things they wanted to point out to people was how to properly do sand bagging. Flooding in your home or store is bad enough but imagine the frustration after a lot of hard work placing sandbags only to have that water infiltrate past them. There are ways to make that less likely to happen and make the barriers better. Paul Edmonds from Red Dragon Consulting takes us through it.

Remember what it was like trying to stay abreast of the changing threats over the last few years? Do you listen to the radio? Which website has the most up-to-date information? Are there public postings for those who aren’t on the web? Where? How do you know?
Well the Regional District has take a step forward in keeping you informed about threats as they happen. They’ve brought out an App (Voyent Alert) for phones and tablets that will get Push notifications about threats as they unfold. Push means you don’t have to make the App visit the website – it gets a notification all by itself. So if there’s a wildfire coming to where you are right now. or a flood, the App will let you know. It runs on both Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android systems.
Listen to RDKB’s Interim Emergency Program Manager Mark Stephens explain more.

What if you’ve gone out into the wilderness hiking, biking, snowmobiling, or hunting and something happens and you need help. What are you going to do?
Did you bring a GPS? Good – You know where you are.
But how do you get that information to Help?
Do you have a Satellite phone? No? How about a Two-Way radio? One that works in the mountains . . .
Or as you lie there with your broken leg / burst appendix / cuts and scrapes will you be wondering how long your body will be there before its found?
It doesn’t have to be that way or have that bad an outlook if you have an In-Reach device . . . with one of those rescuers can know exactly where you are and you can let them know what is wrong so they bring the right supplies to help you. Listen to Scott Lamont from Grand Forks Search and Rescue explain.

Politicians from various levels of government (not the feds) were present. Local city councillors were serving up pancake breakfast with the Elks on Saturday. Other were there to talk about what has happened, is happening and will take place in the future. Mayor Taylor, RDKB Chair Roly Russell and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice spoke.

Province Supporting Flood Affected Small Business Says Rice

Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice came to Grand Forks the morning of Dec 3, 2018. She came bearing bags of cash (figuratively speaking of course) for small businesses in the Boundary that were affected by the spring flood.

How much cash?
$2.9 Million

How much for you?
If you have a business affected by the flood and have 50 or less employees and “some other factors” (?)  then that translates into possibly as much as $18,500. Which sounds close to what businesses in areas affected by Wildfire got last summer. More on all this after the video.

All this money is being funneled through the Red Cross. At 9 minutes into the video they point you to redcross.ca/gethelp which shows you a selection of current projects. Then you have to find the section for Grand Forks and click on it and that takes you to British Columbia Floods 2018 and on that page you’ll find a link to the Support to Small Businesses and Not-for-Profit Organizations.

Watch and listen and learn.

WARNING – RAMPANT EDITORIALIZING AFTER THIS POINT

The Flood that hit us last spring was of historic proportion. And not something the province has experience dealing with . . . which added to our pain and suffering because help was hamstrung by data acquisition, reporting, analyzing and deliberating so that a plan could be implemented.

The disaster that the province has to deal with on a regular, yearly, basis is wildfire. So they have plans for how to deal with people and businesses experiencing wildfire emergencies and their needs both immediate and in the aftermath. You can see that in the Red Cross page “Support to Small Businesses, Not-for-Profit Organizations and First Nations Cultural Livelihoods” created for that purpose. Now the wildfire problems for the year are behind us and the program is not taking any more applications. But to see how much businesses got you can look at the FAQ where it says that they get up to $18,500. Coincidentally the same number announced in the program today.

Before you read on I must say that I do not really intend to bite the hand that helps (you seem like a nice person Secretary Rice and this isn’t personal) . . . but I really feel the need to point out some aspects of reality.

What happens with a Wild Fire?

As far as I know businesses evacuated by wildfire were considered to be off premises for up to two weeks. That’s 2 weeks of lost income at a minimum.

Now if their property was scorched it’s a fire loss / rebuild / restock project. And insurance should help out. Maybe even DFA.

But for businesses not burned the total down time could be as short as the evacuation time. 2 weeks. And then they get to reopen and resume business as best they can.

Let’s look at what happens with a Flood.

Many businesses in Grand Forks evacuated by flooding are still out of their premises 6 months later. Downtown businesses as well. 6 months.

Last month when a couple of them reopened I asked them how much revenue they estimated they had lost being evacuated. One said $100,000. Their neighbour said $500,000.

Until today’s announcement all the businesses have received so far is $1,500. Almost no businesses qualified for DFA. Many got screwed by their insurance providers.

For the past few months one of the messages from the recovery team is that most of the pleas for help to higher levels of government result in requests for ‘more data’. More data so that those trying to analyse the complex problem can come up with a workable plan. So we sent them more data. And then more data.

And now that the temperature is dipping below zero and snow is beginning to fall and people (and businesses) are still  out of their premises making do and decisions need to be made the province sends a parliamentary secretary down with a plan that sure looks like a cookie cutter copy of what they were doing months ago for the wildfire affected entities . . . so much for all that data.

This means that the Province has taken 6 months to decide to give us what they were giving to wildfire victims 6 months ago. After they have been told again and again (we hope) what the reality of the situation is out here in flood disaster world and how it differs from Wildfire disaster world (which we are candidates for on any hot, dry, summer)

So really . . . WTF were they doing for the past 6 months?

I really don’t want to be a crass a-hole and I am grateful for whatever help they can give but when I stand back and look at this I’m left wondering what I’m missing here?
IF I’m missing something then I unreservedly apologize to Secretary Rice and the Province.

But . . . if that’s the extent of the provincial support flood victims will be getting in the future I would strongly suggest potential flood target communities start putting their own fund together. It shouldn’t be too hard or take too long to make it larger than what the province is offering if you just keep feeding it. But that’s just my crazy take on things.