The fire on the west bank of the Thompson River across from Ashcroft on July 7. Some residents are now working on an emergency response plan in the event of a similar disaster. Barbara

Ashcroft residents gather to discuss an emergency plan

Questions and concerns were voiced about the response to the recent wildfire in the region.

A meeting for Ashcroft residents was held on Saturday, July 22 to discuss events and actions during the recent wildfire, and see about starting a community plan using Emergency Social Services. The objective is to have a group of volunteers organized in the event of a future emergency or disaster.

About 100 people were in attendance, and the group’s chair, Sandy Agatiello, welcomed everyone. “We need to plan now, and make sure that everyone is safe in town,” she said. “What can we do as a community to make sure we’re prepared? Let’s go ahead and get started, and try to get some kind of working plan in case this happens again.”

Agatiello said her idea was for a neighbourhood plan with a network of people to distribute information, see who needs help, and more. Those in attendance were asked to put their name on sign-up sheets if they were able to offer assistance in the following areas in the event of an emergency: billeting; transportation; contact tree; meals; special skills; a generator or other specialised machinery; animal care/transport; emergency medical assistance (qualified people); and assistance with seniors.

Sheets of paper were also sent around so that audience members could write down questions they wanted to see addressed at the community meeting planned by the Village of Ashcroft on Tuesday, July 25.

Joyce Buckland, one of the members of the organizing committee, told the audience that “This is not a place for anger,” adding that the event had been “very emotional and scary for a lot of people.” Several audience members voiced questions and concerns, including lack of communication, where mayor and council were, the lack of a muster point, and the locating of the information centre in the Ashcroft fire hall.

It was also noted that there was confusion about water conservation during the 32 hours the power was out on July 7–8, with many unaware that under those circumstances the Village goes to Stage 4 water restrictions, meaning essential use and fire suppression only. “People were still watering their lawns,” one person noted.

The Village’s Emergency Response and Evacuation Plan (https://tnrd.civicweb.net/document/4905) was also commented on, specifically how up to date is it and how closely was it followed or not followed.

For more information, or to sign up, contact Sandy Agatiello at sandyagatiello@yahoo.ca or at (250) 682-4336.