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Tofino mayor praises flood response, urges residents to be prepared for incoming storm

Heavy rainfall expected to begin early Tuesday morning
Local excavator Will Smith snapped this photo of a District of Tofino worker navigating a flooded Hellesen Drive last week. On Thursday, Nov. 25 Tofino issued a rainfall and flood advisory and activated its Emergency Operations Centre while Ucluelet closed access to the Wild Pacific Trail due to wave hazards. (Will Smith photo)

Tofino mayor Dan Law is praising the “professional and organized” manner the district’s public works and emergency crews responded to significant flooding last week and is urging residents to be prepared for another round of storms expected to arrive this week.

“That was the most flooding, certainly, that I’ve experienced,” Law told the Westerly News, adding he’s lived in the community for over 20 years. “There was a significant rainfall record broken that day (Nov. 25) and that materialized in numerous floods…One of the unique things too was the very short period of time that the rain fell. In Tofino, we get a lot of rain. It’s not uncommon for Tofino to get over 200 millimetres in a weekend, but in such a short period of time it didn’t allow the water to run off quickly, so it just accumulated and accumulated and then overflowed and flooded.”

He noted the district’s public works crew responded in full force and the emergency operations centre was activated.

“People were in full swing dealing with the emergency in an exemplary manner,” he said. “I was very proud of the whole crew….They did an exceptional job.”

He added the emergency operations centre is anticipating being called upon again as a stronger storm is expected to arrive on Tuesday.

“This is uncharted territory, that’s a little bit cliche, but we have been warned that wet areas will get wetter, storms will get stronger and that is what we’re seeing. So, we do have to take heed and be responsible and prepare accordingly,” Law said.

He added residents in low lying areas should be prepared, adding sandbags are available at the district’s public works yard and information is available through the district’s social media channels.

“People who experienced near flooding or flooding on Thursday should look at the weather and understand that this may happen again or it may be worse,” he said.

Tofino’s Emergency Program Coordinator Keith Orchiston noted the district received a $150,000 grant for a flood mapping project in 2018.

“These maps, along with the existing emergency preparedness plans have provided the District with essential knowledge to plan, mitigate and respond to flooding,” Orchiston said through a Nov. 26 media release. “Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins in every home, in every business, and across all levels of government. By preparing for the worst, we can expect the best response to protect and help our community.”

Anyone who spots a flooded area or potential hazard is urged to report their sighting to the Emergency Public Works phone at 250-726-7837.

Residents are also encouraged to get prepared by visiting and creating an emergency plan for their household including grab and go kits.

“The District’s Emergency Operations Centre, District staff, Council and I are committed to emergency preparedness throughout the incoming storms over the next week,” Tofino mayor Dan Law said through the release. “Residents and visitors are reminded to monitor Environment Canada advisories, reduce unnecessary travel on roadways during storms, and to exercise extreme caution when encountering any moving water or flooding. Keeping our roadways and public access points clear and accessible for emergency and maintenance vehicles allows hazards to be addressed quickly and efficiently, which can save lives and prevent damage to property.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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