With this year’s high water, Shuswap Emergency Program staff are working behind the scenes to help protect critical public works infrastructure, like Salmon Arm’s water treatment plant, a portion of which was surrounded by sand-filled gabion baskets on June 1, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Shuswap Emergency Program an important asset for region

Council Report by City of Salmon Arm Councillor Kevin Flynn

It’s the Shuswap’s best kept secret.

That’s probably because you may not think much about emergencies – until there is one.

This was something that came to my mind during the last municipal election when, during the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce’s all-candidates meeting, a question was asked about why Salmon Arm did not have an emergency program.

Actually, Salmon Arm does. So does the District of Sicamous and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).

It is known as the Shuswap Emergency Program.

When it comes to emergency management, our three local governments are all on the same team.

We work together to ensure our residents are safe and have the supports they need before, during and after an emergency situation.

The Shuswap Emergency Program, also known as SEP, was formed in 1999, with the amalgamation of three local authorities: the CSRD’s Electoral Areas C, D, E and F, the City of Salmon Arm and the District of Sicamous.

SEP provides emergency planning, mitigation, preparedness and recovery for the geographical area which encompasses the Shuswap region.

It is a well-established, active program of volunteers and local staff who are all trained in emergency management.

With this partnership, the Shuswap Emergency Program is better able to coordinate emergency responses because, as we know, fires, floods or other emergencies don’t respect government boundaries. The program also helps avoid the duplication of resources, saving our taxpayers money.

Currently, the Shuswap Emergency Program is actively working on the high water and flooding issues out of its emergency operations centre (EOC) in the CSRD boardroom.

In this case, the EOC staff spent recent days helping property owners get sand and bags to protect their property, mobilized provincial emergency funds, ensured critical public works infrastructure, like Salmon Arm’s water treatment plant is protected, planned for possible evacuations of people or livestock in Silver Creek and spread the word about critical emergency information.

And when there isn’t an emergency situation, this is the organization doing the behind-the-scenes work to ensure we are prepared and have plans at the ready – just in case.

So, no secret here, the Shuswap Emergency Program provides some of the most important services we need, when we need them.

To find out more about the program, and to stay connected to important, local information, go to www.shuswapemergency.ca or follow the Shuswap Emergency Program page on Facebook.

Kevin Flynn is a councillor for the City of Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm council

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