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October 27, 2017 4:41 pm

Prince George Prepared to Take Williams Lake Evacuees if Necessary

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 6:01 AM

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.



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