In a recent turn of events, the City of Yellowknife found itself without a concrete plan for a full-scale evacuation, despite being forced to initiate one last month. This revelation has sparked concerns among residents and emergency management experts alike.
City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett admitted during a news conference that although they were prepared with a shelter-in-place plan, evacuating the entire city was not part of their emergency planning or that of the Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT). The evacuation order, which had been in effect for weeks, is set to be lifted, allowing approximately 22,000 people to return home from various locations, including Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, the Yukon, and elsewhere.
Before the evacuation order was issued for Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, Dettah, and the Ingraham Trail on August 18th, city officials had indicated that their strategy in case of a wildfire threat was to move people from the most vulnerable areas to other parts of the city, utilizing the multiplex as an evacuation center for the displaced. However, this approach drew criticism from experts like Alain Normand, an emergency management communication instructor at York University.
Normand argued that a shelter-in-place plan would not be effective in the event of a wildfire, as it would keep residents within the danger zone. He pointed out that the initial plan did not account for deteriorating air quality, a significant concern during wildfires. Given Yellowknife’s geographical location and the increasing intensity of wildfires, many believed it was only a matter of time before the city faced a large-scale fire threat.
Normand emphasized that a remote city like Yellowknife should have had a comprehensive evacuation plan in place, and this plan should have been made public to ensure transparency and preparedness.
Resident Sukhmanpreet Dhindsa expressed her frustration, noting that by the time the evacuation alert was issued on August 15th for only the western parts of the city, she had already lost confidence in the local officials’ ability to manage the situation. The city-wide evacuation order was announced the following day, leading Dhindsa to believe that the city lacked a well-thought-out plan.
Dhindsa concluded by saying that she, along with many others, had lost faith in the city and the N.W.T. government’s ability to handle future evacuations or emergency management situations. This incident has underscored the importance of comprehensive emergency planning, transparency, and public confidence in the face of unexpected crises. Read more: https://anuporomanunews.com/