With the arrival of warmer day time temperatures and an anticipated seasonal rise in creeks and rivers, a series of self-fill sandbag stations has been established around the region.
“It is important for people to protect their homes and properties early,” says Regional Emergency Operations Centre Director, Terry Balan. “To assist in that effort, we have established numerous sandbag stations around the region to help residents in flood-prone areas proactively prepare.”
Sandbag stations are currently located at Cranbrook Public Works Yard, the Old Barn at Fairmont Mountainside Golf Course, Windermere Fire Hall parking lot, RDEK Pump House in Moyie, Centennial Hall in Kimberley and at the Fernie Public Works Yard on Railway Avenue.
New this year are additional safety measures at the sandbag stations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Users are asked to obey physical distancing and separate piles have been set up at each site to accommodate distancing. In addition, use of proper protective equipment (gloves, face mask, eye protection) is encouraged and users should avoid sharing equipment. “We have posted signage at each sandbag station to help provide guidance around these new safety pre-cautions and would ask all users to obey them while using the sandbag stations,” adds Balan.
The sandbag stations have sand and bags; however, residents need to bring their own shovels and gloves. Sandbags should be filled ½ to ¾ full with the ends folded over for best compaction and effectiveness when placing them.
“Preparation and prevention are key. Residents who are concerned that they may be impacted by high water levels should take steps now to prepare themselves,” adds Balan. “At the emergency management level, we are working cooperatively with all the municipalities and First Nations in the East Kootenay and are ready to provide support should it be required as we head into the spring freshet.”
In cases of localized flooding or high-water, the primary responsibility for protection of property lies with the property owner. The East Kootenay Emergency Management Program has distributed a seasonal flooding newsletter and has posted it, along with helpful tips and links to other flood-related information, on the RDEK’s website at http://www.rdek.bc.ca.
Residents who see, or are experiencing, wide-scale flooding are encouraged to report it to the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456. This is the fastest and most effective way to activate local emergency management personnel.