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Emergency Operations lays out returning home guide for West Kelowna residents

The McDougall Creek wildfire is now being held
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Central Okanagan Emergency Operations are created a returning home guide for West Kelowna residents affected by the McDougall Creek wildfire. (BC Wildfire Service)

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations is here to help West Kelowna residents return home safely after the McDougall Creek wildfire.

They have made a guide to help everyone who can, return home safely.

Property Damage

Anyone who had their property suffer partial damage or their home is a complete loss, is able to access support through the Resiliency Centre. Caseworkers are there and are trained to help understand the needs of community members affected and help provide individualized support. The following representatives are there to help:

  • Representatives from the insurance industry;
  • Building advisory;
  • Mental health support;
  • Red Cross;
  • Service Canada;
  • Service B.C.;
  • First Nations Emergency Services Society of BC;
  • Samaritan’s Purse;
  • Emergency Support Services.

The Resiliency Centre located at 403 – 3031 Louie Drive and is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Sundays. Residents can also call at 250-469-6327 or email resiliency.centre@rdco.com.

Damaged/ruined Fridges and Freezers

Most residents are returning to a home that didn’t have power for a few days, making food go bad and ruining fridges and freezers. The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is offering curbside pickup for ruined fridges and freezers. Takes these steps for fridge and freezer curbside pick-up:

  • Email: info@rapidresponseind.com to schedule a pick-up;
  • Do not open fridge and seal with duct tape prior to moving;
  • Move appliances from your home and place on curbside or driveway by 8 a.m. on the scheduled day of pick-up.

Residents can submit their pick-up request before 4 p.m. and it will be picked up the following day before 4 p.m. Requests after 4 p.m. are subject to 24-hour delay of pick-up.

To not interfere with wildfire, fridge and freezers should be placed outside just before their pick-up time.

This program is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Water Quality

Residents returning home may be coming home to a damaged water system due to the wildfires. Upon returning home, residents should follow up with their water supplier for more information and bring bottled water home with them in case their at-home water isn’t drinkable.

If you are unsure who your water supplier is, visit drinkingwaterforeveryone.ca/advisorymap.

Wildlife

As residents return home, they are to be aware of wildlife around their homes. Wildfires can take out many natural food resources for animals, who will look into surrounding homes for additional food.

“Use caution when disposing of garbage as it can attract bears and other wildlife leading to human-wildlife conflicts,” says EOC. “If you encounter an animal that appears injured or unwilling to leave, call the B.C. Conservation Office at 1-877-952-7277.”

If a resident finds a dead animal on their property, it is their responsibility to get rid of it. If one is found on public property, contact your local municipality of Westbank First Nation to report it.

Wildfire-affected public and private property

Residents going home are to respect their neighbours properties and refrain from trespassing.

Public areas like parks and Crown Land might continue to be closed for safety reasons like falling trees. Active restoration work is currently underway as crews remove damaged trees and debris to help people get home safely.

Slope stability

Currently, the province is conducting a post-wildfire natural hazards risk analysis, which looks at changes in vegetation and surface conditions that may increase the probability of slope instability. It is important for residents living on or adjacent to wildfire-affected properties and waterways to monitor for irregularities, particularly during a rainfall event. Depending on many factors, the rate of erosion can be anywhere from 3-10 years.

Residents should keep an eye out for the following that could cause a landslide:

  • Sudden changes in stream flow;
  • Rapid changes or pulses in flow (e.g. changes in volume) or pulses of sediment (e.g. from clear to murky);
  • Abnormally dirty water;
  • Accumulation of large logs or debris;
  • Rapid accumulation of sediment or bed-load along a flat section of a creek channel;
  • Tension cracks near the top of the slope;
  • Falling rocks or boulders or flowing or sliding soil. This may precede a much larger landslide

To report landslide or debris flow indicators, call the 24-hour provincial toll-free number at 1-800-663-3456 or contact your local fire, RCMP or public works department.

Area Restriction Order

An area restriction order is still in place until Tuesday, Oct. 3 or until rescinded. In this, Bear Creek Provincial Park remains closed to the public.

Only properties immediately surrounding 550 Westside Road remain in evacuation order.

Anyone found in the area is subject to a $1,150 fine.

The McDougall Creek wildfire was changed from ‘out of control’ to ‘being held’ on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Being held means the blaze is now unlikely to spread beyond the predetermined boundaries under the current conditions.

The fire ignited on Tuesday, Aug. 15 and remains at 13,970.4 hectares in size and a wildfire of note. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

READ MORE: Nearly all residents have returned home following West Kelowna wildfire

READ MORE: Westside communities press province on matters of mutual concern at UBCM



Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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