Editorial: Reasons to be ready

Secondary emergency route desperately needed in Agassiz and Harrison

Last week, the province’s auditor filed a report claiming we just aren’t ready for ‘the big one.’

The folks at Emergency Management B.C. are so busy dealing with the emergencies that occur on a daily basis (flooding, fires) that there is little time devoted to earthquake planning. That means two things.

One, emergencies do happen.

Two, now more than ever, British Columbians need to be prepared.

For as long as most can remember, a secondary emergency route has been a dire need in this area. In time of an emergency, residents may need to get out just as much as first responders need to get in. In Harrison, residents and visitors alike are geographically limited by one main road in and out. That doesn’t leave a lot of options in the face of an emergency. Last year, an interface fire along Rockwell Drive threatened homes and cut off traffic to the east side of the lake. Residents were unable to return home, and campers were unable to leave the area as firefighters worked to knock down the flames.

It was a stark reminder how dependent we are on roadways to move people, food and medicine.

In Agassiz, the railway snakes through town, cutting its way through Harrison Mills, dividing Agassiz, and running along Seabird Island. In early July last year, a train fire just west of Agassiz was quickly doused by firefighters. Only a few days later, Lac-Megantic suffered a disastrously different train episode, when one derailed and caused multiple explosions. Half of that town’s business core was destroyed, and the event is now the deadliest disaster in rail history in Canada.

While it’s no need to panic, we must always remain aware that the trains passing through our communities have potential to shut down roadways, at the very least.

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