Emergency: Impacted Indigenous Communities Report #6

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November 22, 2021

News Category
Uncategorized

State of Emergency declared November 17, 2021

DATE: November 21, 2021 NEW INFORMATION IN BLUE HAZARDS: FLOODING (Atmospheric River Event Nov 13-15)

• EMBC Regional Offices: 3 PREOCs Activated: Vancouver Island and Coastal Region; Southwest; and Central operating in response to impacted Indigenous communities and local authorities. EMBC Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre is also activated to support the Regional Offices.

• First Nation Agency Representatives (including ISC, FNESS, FNHA, and MIRR – Strategic Liaison, Safety and Consultation Branch) participating in multiple operational coordination calls daily and supporting communities as needed.

PROVINCIAL OVERVIEW:

Weather: Snow Warning continues for the north coast, Atmospheric River for the North Coast, sliding southward by early next week. Modelling is challenging beyond that timeframe, but ECCC is also tracking an additional Atmospheric River to land towards the end of next week.

Overview: The province is responding to catastrophic damage to major routes between the Lower Mainland through to Hope and the remainder of the province. Fuel and travel restrictions now in place under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). Ministry of Transportation advises the Coquihalla (Hwy 5) will take months to repair. Repairs to Hwy 3, 7, 99 have enabled re-opening of those routes. Four deaths are attributed to this natural disaster, and one person remains missing. Search and Rescue have suspended their search in the Highway 99 area.

The Profiles of Indigenous Peoples tool is continually being updated to ensure that staff cross-government working with Indigenous people are aware of the impacts, now totalling 45 communities. Many of these are isolated and sheltering in place due to compromised road and bridge infrastructure or are evacuated due to flooding. Additional infrastructure damage has resulted in communication challenges and some communities are having to relay information through others.

Themes from multiple meetings:

  • Hearing positive stories of communities working to support their neighbours, as well as offers of assistance from agencies to loan or provide equipment on an informal basis.
  • Geotechnical requests made for months, and slide risk openly discussed; comments include ‘were all possible mitigative steps taken?’ and ‘centralise key supports to ensure the process is streamlined’
  • River Forecast Centre Predictive Modelling did not forecast this impact – were hydrophobic soil impacts considered in that modeling? Is there anything to be learned here?
  • Environment Canada modelling didn’t flag anything of note either. Is it actually accommodating for climate change, or is there a better way to indicate severity? Looking for tools to improve.
    o Public messaging will be increased to raise awareness regarding coming weather events.
    o ECCC are expediting a new tool which will help predict the impacts from Atmospheric Rivers
    • Concerns about speed of response/preparedness for event.
      o Ministry of Agriculture has increased messaging to address agricultural supports available
      o Orders issued under the EPA to mitigate fuel shortages and manage non-essential travel
    • PROVINCIAL OVERVIEW:

      Weather: Snow Warning continues for the north coast, Atmospheric River for the North Coast, sliding southward by early next week. Modelling is challenging beyond that timeframe, but ECCC is also tracking an additional Atmospheric River to land towards the end of next week.

      Overview: The province is responding to catastrophic damage to major routes between the Lower Mainland through to Hope and the remainder of the province. Fuel and travel restrictions now in place under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). Ministry of Transportation advises the Coquihalla (Hwy 5) will take months to repair. Repairs to Hwy 3, 7, 99 have enabled re-opening of those routes. Four deaths are attributed to this natural disaster, and one person remains missing. Search and Rescue have suspended their search in the Highway 99 area.

      The Profiles of Indigenous Peoples tool is continually being updated to ensure that staff cross-government working with Indigenous people are aware of the impacts, now totalling 45 communities. Many of these are isolated and sheltering in place due to compromised road and bridge infrastructure or are evacuated due to flooding. Additional infrastructure damage has resulted in communication challenges and some communities are having to relay information through others.

      Themes from multiple meetings:

    • Hearing positive stories of communities working to support their neighbours, as well as offers of assistance from agencies to loan or provide equipment on an informal basis.
    • Geotechnical requests made for months, and slide risk openly discussed; comments include ‘were all possible mitigative steps taken?’ and ‘centralise key supports to ensure the process is streamlined’
    • River Forecast Centre Predictive Modelling did not forecast this impact – were hydrophobic soil impacts considered in that modeling? Is there anything to be learned here?
    • Environment Canada modelling didn’t flag anything of note either. Is it actually accommodating for climate change, or is there a better way to indicate severity? Looking for tools to improve.
      o Public messaging will be increased to raise awareness regarding coming weather events.
      o ECCC are expediting a new tool which will help predict the impacts from Atmospheric Rivers
      • Concerns about speed of response/preparedness for event.
        o Ministry of Agriculture has increased messaging to address agricultural supports available
        o Orders issued under the EPA to mitigate fuel shortages and manage non-essential travel
      • Re-traumatization occurring due to multiple events and feeling like the response is disorganized and disjointed (esp. communications). Mental health supports will struggle to keep up with demand.
        o FNHA representatives are now staffing reception centres.
        o EMBC clarifying ESS supportsmessaging for stranded or evacuated Indigenous people
        • Frustration over Merritt’s wristband authorization – restricting access to responders, FN Leadership.
        • ESS: hearing reports of people from Coldwater and Sto:lo being turned away for assistance. FNHA noting that people are sleeping in cars, not hearing back from ESS on supports.
          o ESS staffing up and registration underway; challenges due to registrant volume (Kamloops)
      • Read the individual community impacts in the report and more here