After what can only be described as one of the most amazing summers I’ve experienced since moving to Metro Vancouver in the late 80’s – there isn’t a moment that goes by where I don’t appreciate everything our region has to offer.
We have beautiful sandy ocean beaches, endless green coastal mountains and a multicultural city which thankfully has been immune to the types of catastrophes, racial tensions and natural disasters we’ve witnessed on the cable news networks over the last several months.
After watching what continues to unfold in Texas over the last week due to Hurricane Harvey…you can’t help but think we are so blessed to live in a part of the world that has what can only be described as “boring” weather.
Sure we get lots of rain during the winter months. But unlike places like Houston, we receive our 50+ inches of rain over the course of a year – not three days.
While we have been relatively immune to major disasters in Metro Vancouver, the same can’t be said for our fellow citizens across the province who have been dealing with hundreds of major wildfires this summer. British Columbia remains in a state of emergency, but our region has once again dodged a bullet.
The summer wasn’t totally free of the impact of wildfires in the Lower Mainland. We did experience about a dozen days of hazy skies due to wildfire smoke which triggered air quality advisories. But in the greater scheme of things, this was just a minor inconvenience compared to what Houstonians are facing in the weeks and months to come.
Living in what many describe as a paradise can easily lull us into a false sense of security. There are far too many people that subscribe to the theory that disasters only happen somewhere else…and not in a place like Vancouver.
Are we really prepared if a major natural disaster were to strike? Based on what I’ve seen and read, the answer would be a resounding no.
If you ask most Metro Vancouver residents if they are prepared to live without power and water for five days or more, few would be able to respond in the affirmative.
Yet we know that for all its beauty, our region lies above a series of major fault lines that at some point will trigger “the big one”. That being a catastrophic earthquake of at least 8.0 on the Richter Scale.
Similar to Houston, we would be facing the prospect of major pieces of infrastructure like the Pattullo Bridge and Massey Tunnel being taken out of commission – perhaps permanently.
Vast areas of the region would be without power, sewer and water for days on end. Now just imagine all of this transpiring in the dead of winter when the daily temperature struggles to reach the upper single digits and we get barely eight hours of sunlight a day.
After an almost perfect summer, it’s easy to forget that natural disasters aren’t just things that happen in other cities – they can…and will happen here one day too.
We may live in a rain forest, however, during the heat of the summer our North Shore mountains and regional parks are susceptible to major fires. With the amount of sprawl taking place up the slopes and beyond, it wouldn’t take much for there to be a major loss of homes and personal belongings.
To our south the view of Mount Baker is breathtaking this time of year. However, few make the connection that this postcard setting is also a dormant volcano. It is impossible to predict when it will erupt next, but one need only look southward at Mount St. Helen’s to see how quickly a majestic view can be turned into a raging torrent of mud and hot ash.
Yes…let’s all enjoy summer and count our blessings that we live in such a beautiful, safe and pleasant part of the world to live in. However, do so knowing there is also a chance our paradise might one day also be the subject of wall-to-wall coverage on CNN.
To learn more about how you and your family should prepare for an emergency, be sure to click here.