Early warning system to be put in place for at-risk residents

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Funding has been secured from the Province of BC to develop an Early Warning System that will assist in alerting residents in the Wiseman Creek area of the District of Sicamous to potential threats from post-wildfire landslides.

A study by the geotechnical engineering firm BGC Engineering determined that damage caused to the landscape from the summer’s Two Mile Road wildfire has made the slopes above the Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park unstable and at risk of a debris flood, and possibly a debris flow.

While both types of landslides can cause damage, a debris flow is more serious because it contains more soil and debris, which can travel farther and faster, and with more impact to whatever is in its path.  

The engineering firm conducted a series of reports regarding these risk factors for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and concluded the chance of a landslide taking place in the area sometime over the next two years is close to 100 per cent. As such, there is a significant risk to both life and property.

It was recommended this Early Warning System be put in place before spring melt and rainfall increase the risks. The system is designed to use weather forecasting data to determine whether an evacuation alert or order would be issued for residents in the area.

The warning system needs to be based on forecasted weather data because, once rain has begun to fall, it is already too late to notify residents of the risk and have them safely evacuate.

The cost of the Early Warning System is estimated at $30,000. Now that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has agreed to fund the warning system, work on its development and implementation has already begun.

The system will be operational by the beginning of April.

Photo: The Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park with a view of the forested slope behind. (District of Sicamous photo) 

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