Prince George Prepared to Take Williams Lake Evacuees if Necessary
Prince George, B.C. – It’s a tall order, but the City of Prince George will be ready to accept as many folks from Williams Lake should the evacuation alert in that city become an evacuation order.
Williams Lake has a population of just over 11 thousand. An evacuation alert was issued for that entire city last evening as new weather forecasts painted a gloomy picture . Environment Canada is advising that community could see wind gusts of 10- 20 kms per hour and temps in the high 20’s. There is also a possibility of lightning. All factors which don’t bode well for a community that has wildfire flames licking at its doorstep.
The evacuation alert was issued as a precautionary measure says Cariboo regional District Chair Al Richmond “We don’t want to cause alarm; however, we want residents to know what kind of fire behaviour is expected on Wednesday.”
City of Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says the alert will give people time to prepare “We want to ensure that residents have sufficient time to be prepared in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Please make sure you’ve taken appropriate steps should an evacuation be necessary. If you require assistance, please reach out and do so now.”
Prince George is expected to receive any from Williams Lake who are forced from their homes. “When we first started looking at evacuation locations and what it meant to Prince George, we were initially told thousands and thousands of people” says Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall “We have now seen 100Mile House, and if the (Williams Lake) alert turns into an order, they are going to have choices as to where to go, but Prince George is a logical place because it’s closer.”
That means, P.G. could be receiving more people at one time than it welcomed during the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Mayor Hall says it will be a challenge “It’s going to put a real demand on our resources, I’m not really worried about accommodation because we’ve got a number of schools, the Civic Centre and on and on that we can go into, but when you talk about the magnitude of the potential of the number of people coming, the demand on resources , on personnel that starts becoming very huge.”
During the Canada Winter Games, the City had mobilized thousands of volunteers, and this evacuation scenario will need to draw from that volunteer base says Mayor Hall. As for supplies to house so many evacuees, Mayor Hall says there won’t be any shortage of cots “We can get them here within days we have a number that continue to arrive every day, so we are good there, but if we hear in the next 24 hours that we need cots for 6 or seven thousand more people we are going to have to make the call obviously and get those cots brought in.”
If there is any encouraging news for Williams Lake, it is that the forecast for Thursday calls for more stable weather conditions.