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Mayor of Cache Creek seeks better natural disaster response times

Last Updated May 13, 2018 at 10:09 am PST

FILE: An undated photo showing a BC Wildfire Service member. (Courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

Communication breakdown led to issues during busy wildfire, flood season around Cache Creek in 2017

Cache Creek mayor hopes this summer is better handled as crews prepare for fires, floods

CACHE CREEK (NEWS 1130) – The mayor of a community hit hard by last year’s devastating wildfires and floods is hoping response times will improve now that more than 100 recommendations have been made following an independent review.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta says he’s proud of how people across the Thompson-Nicola region came together to help thousands forced out of their homes in 2017, but he admits a key problem was communication.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have no control over — the rumours. Once you hear a rumour one place and you hear another rumour in another place, you begin to believe that rumour is true and yet it may not be based on facts, so listen to the experts and not listen to the rumours.”

Ranta adds he’s grateful no one died when a fast-moving wildfire wiped out most of the Boston Flats trailer park, so the priority should be making sure alerts go out as soon as possible.

“Normally, we try to provide an evacuation alert if it appears as if the fires may get close to their homes.”

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Ranta, who’s also the chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, understands little can be done to prevent a natural disaster.

“In the case of Boston Flats trailer park, which lost 45 or 50 trailers in a heartbeat, the only advice they got was, ‘Run for your lives, the fire is coming.'”

During a province-wide state of emergency that lasted 10 weeks, 65,000 people were displaced and flames destroyed more than 1 million hectares of land.

We’re now waiting for the BC government to act on more than 100 recommendations made in the report by former BC Liberal Cabinet Minister George Abbott and Chief Maureen Chapman of the Skawahlook First Nation.

It’s not clear how much that will cost, but government staff say internal reviews have already addressed and implemented changes on 19 issues raised.