Letter: Are we prepared for a real emergency?

We’re in enormous trouble if something really bad like the “big one” — an earthquake, a tsunami, or a major forest fire — occurs.

If the Thursday, July 31 event is any indication of the way our Sooke Regional “Authorities” handle emergencies, then we’re in enormous trouble if something really bad like the “big one” — an earthquake, a tsunami, or a major forest fire — occurs.

My husband and I spent more than seven hours trying to get home during what should now be remembered as “The Sooke Road House-Fire Fiasco.”

I’m sure the many local fire departments (many volunteer) did their best, as they had to ship in water, deal with midsummer dry conditions and a forested area, so kudos for successfully containing it to a single property.  We feel for the person who lost their house, and we’re thankful no one was hurt.

But according to local news reports, this containment happened fairly early on, so why was it necessary to stop Sooke Road traffic until ten o’clock at night?

With traffic backed up to Happy Valley Road and beyond, we saw not a single police officer, RCMP, or any other related officer directing traffic and providing information to stranded motorists.  A family member stuck near town told us he saw police hanging around eating doughnuts(!!) and doing nothing. Where was the Police Chief? The Mayor? The City Council? The CRD?

During construction work, there are always a few people directing traffic, but yesterday we didn’t see a single Flag person!

Our sole source of information came from drivers heading east on Sooke Road.  Even local radio stations (“100.3 The Q” for example) seemed more interested in keeping to their play lists than reporting, and asked listeners to email information from their cellphones!  They had no useful information.

As more and more cars drove by heading east, it was very scary, as many drove very fast in the left passing lane while we were in our cars like sitting ducks.

We were in the two-lane section going west, and there were drivers who used the right lane to jump the queue, including motorcyclists.

Empty buses with “Not In Service” signs went by as well, and we saw people stranded at bus stops all along the route!

We were lucky in that we were able to turn around and drive into Langford for dinner.  We thought surely the roads would be back to normal by the time we reached Sooke Road again (not).

Local authorities and the provincial government are always telling us to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters.  In my opinion, they are the ones who are woefully unprepared: is this actually their best response? To create unnecessary, major disruptions, and kilometres-long traffic line-ups with no help or information?

I hate to think if any of the stuck motorists were in need of medication, such as insulin.  With much of the area without cellphone coverage, I hope no one became critically ill while they waited.

Paying for incompetence, a lack of caring authorities and management, or both: welcome to how our local taxes are used.

I hope everyone who was effected by this will speak up and let the appropriate people know how they feel: that this is completely unacceptable.

Helene Harrison

Shirley

 

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