The last two weeks has really brought to light several things that I for one am reflecting on moving into 2019. Our Island really pulled together in time of need and supported our neighbours and responders like nothing we have seen before. The wind event was like a fire alarm warning us what we should be expecting. The growing trend is that we are experiencing greater fierce storms and drier hotter drought-like summers than ever before. My gut tells me this is not the last big emergency event we will see on Salt Spring Island, I think we need to take this incident seriously by adapting and becoming more resilient.
Thoughts on how to prepare your home for the next storm:
- We are not immune from catastrophic events on our island. Serious events that are far greater than what we experienced in Dec 2018 are very possible. Now is the time to prepare and think about how you can be more self-reliant and resilient. We are not immune. What we experienced is just a small taste of what we would endure if we had the BIG ONE shake our island.
- Consider an emergency contact plan in the event of island-wide emergencies. How do you connect with your loved ones when phones are down, when the internet is down?
- Prepare for extended period power outages. Consider generators, back up battery packs, flashlights, etc… We take for granted the luxury of power, and our dependence on it is great. To bounce back we must be ready for long duration power outages.
- Build up your Emergency Kit. While it is still fresh in your mind, time to stock up on drinking water and other essentials. Drinking water on SSI was a huge challenge and one we take for granted. Drinking water is super vital, the time to prepare is now.
- Consider your landscaping around your home. Is your property FireSmart for wildfire season? Are the trees around your home a safe distance away for the next big wind storm that we will have?
- Time to join or take a more active role in the CRD Emergency Program and the Neighbourhood POD program. These key programs will help us get more and more resilient.
- As great as our local emergency agencies are, none of them can guarantee an immediate response during large scale emergencies. Being on an island restricts all emergency services
to only what is situated locally. We don’t have the potential of calling for neighbouring help. There were several incidents that delayed our responses due to downed trees and power lines and resources were stretched very thin.
- Consider joining one of your local First Responder groups. Our island’s emergency responders are always looking for interested members to join them. This is a great way to become prepared and more knowledgeable about emergency management.
- We were all very lucky no one was injured during this storm. A reminder to all that downed power lines cannot be trusted as being dead. Stay back at least 10m (33’) and don’t risk driving under fallen trees.
- As we venture into 2019, keep emergency preparedness in your mind at all times. Being on an island we are vulnerable thus we must be proactive and prepared.
The amount of interest and conversations following the big storm of 2018, shows how we as a community can become better prepared and support each other. As many have said this event was a wake-up call. We have all heard it, now is the time to act and keep the momentum going. Keep up the good work Salt Spring Island. Our beautiful island really showed compassion, and a desire to help, we should all be proud, let’s build on it.