In the wake of the recent flooding activity along the banks of the Bulkley River, Smithers Fire Chief Keith Stecko will be will also be wearing the Field Operations Section Chief hat for the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako.
Council approved the appointment last night.
He’s the incident commander for the Town of Smithers as well, and will be compensated by the RDBN for mileage on his vehicle and for time served. The contract expressly states that should there be an emergency within the Town of Smithers, his contract would expire so he could man the operations here.
“We’re concerned about Saturday, because the heat is going to bring it back up,” Mayor Cress Farrow said.
Evacuation alerts have been issued by both the RDBN and the Town of Smithers, both of which are still active as of 10 a.m. May 19. Impacted areas include Viewmount Road, including 22nd Avenue and Columbia Street, the south side of Quick Station Bridge to 16548 Quick Station Road for the regional district, and the 2100 block of Riverside Drive, 2700 block of Pacific Avenue, 2100 block of Main Street and the 4200 block of Rosenthal Road for Smithers.
Stecko says the number one concern is public safety for the community. They’re continually monitoring the situation, however at the moment there is still a couple of feet at Riverside before it breaches its bank.
“We’re keeping a careful watch on that,” Stecko said. “In the meantime, we’ve put the public that live in that area on notice in the event that conditions change. We want to be able to provide those residents with as much advance notice as possible in the event that we do have to evacuate.”
The alert allows them to throw together their clothes, any important documents, medications or any other important items in a single location that will be easily grabbed before leaving. An emergency centre, if this does occur, has been set up at Ranger Park within town.
For those impacted residents in need of sandbags, they can contact the town who will arrange for sand and sandbags from there, Stecko said, so they can begin if they feel the need.
“The number one concern is public safety,” Stecko said. “The less you go near the river the better. The last thing we would want is for anybody to fall in and create a situation around that.”