Grand Forks emergency officials provide flooding update
As people in Grand Forks continue to gut flood-stricken homes, frustration is building.
Although only nine homes remain under an evacuation order, dozens of people have found their homes to be uninhabitable.
“We’re totally acknowledging what we heard at community meetings: that people need more information to know whether or not they should invest money in their homes,” said Frances Maika, an information officer with the emergency operations centre. “Whether or not another flood is going to come at some point, and if so, what kind of protection works will be in place.”
“We’d like to be able to give them answers on all of those fronts right away, but there’s some work that needs to go on with the participation of the provincial government,” she added.
Officials need to take a closer look at the flooding and what makes sense to rebuild, Maika said.
Provincial funding has been secured for an overview of what happened during the flooding, Maika said.
“People are very eager to have somebody take their soil and find out what’s in it,” Maika said. “But for that information to have meaning and actually be accurate, we have to look at how much water came through, what’s the situation of the flood, how is that going to affect the sampling program.”
“The fact that they haven’t come straight in and sampled is actually a good sign,” she said. “It may be that the concern for the soil is less than what people think may have occurred there.”
Another big concern is where people will be housed, she said.
“There’s a lot of people who are making do with accommodations in trailers or hotels or staying with friends and waiting to see if they can rebuild,” Maika said.
“Hopefully we’ll have some more answers for this Wednesday’s community meeting.”
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The regional district has arranged for contractors to pick up flooding waste from the curb until at least the end of June, Maika said.
Maika said the emergency operations centre had also heard from residents that not everybody under an evacuation order had been told to leave their home.
“Some of these evacuations were what we call tactical evacuations,” Maika said. “There were upwards of 3,000 people put on evacuation order in a 24-hour period. You can imagine the feat of delivering that many notices to that many people.”
“In some areas, search and rescue banged on doors. When people weren’t home, they flagged the home as people weren’t home. In some cases, people had already self-evacuated,” she added.
What happened during the evacuation will be reviewed in a debriefing, Maika said, adding that people were already on evacuation alert.
“What I do know about the search and rescue and fire department points of view,” she said, “is that people were going flat out, trying to get people out of their homes.”
There will be a community meeting at Grand Forks Secondary School at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re going to have a lot of different agencies to give as current and complete information as possible with the questions people have,” Maika said. “We’re not going to be able to answer everybody’s questions, and timelines are not going to be quick enough for what people want, but we’re doing our best.”
Insurance, disaster financial assistance, Red Cross and provincial officials will on be on hand, she added.Follow @Jules_Knox