As heavy winds blow through Port Alberni, the Tseshaht First Nation are taking a pro-active approach to prepare for the storms.
“We are anticipating high water and we are anticipating the usual trees coming down the river so we have closed and locked the gate at Paper Mill Dam on the reserve side so people will not be able to go in there with their vehicles,” Hugh Braker, chair of the Tseshaht emergency preparedness committee.
Braker hopes the locked gate will discourage people from going in when there’s high and dangerous water.
In addition, the Tseshaht have removed the wharf that floats in the river behind the Tseshaht office.
“[The wharf] is owned by the band and we’ve taken that out to protect it from logs coming down and getting caught,” Braker said.
Thirdly, Braker said over the past several days the Tseshaht have contracted fallers to remove potentially dangerous trees around the reserve.
“These are trees that we identified with earlier as being particularly dangerous to buildings and to residents,” Braker said. “Some of them were rotten, some were leaning and tilting that had been damaged in previous storms so we had them taken down.”
After an Emergency Preparedness BC organized conference call Friday afternoon, Braker said he was informed that flooding for the Somass River is not expected
“I’m anticipating water in some people’s back yards but I’m not anticipating that we’ll get any threat to any structures. Not if the forecast remains accurate,” Braker said.
He said Port Alberni can expect strong winds starting Saturday afternoon but that they shouldn’t be as powerful as originally predicted.
City of Port Alberni staff have been clearing catch basins as a result of all the fallen leaves and Jake Martens, deputy city clerk with the City of Port Alberni, said crews have had to remove a few boulevard trees that fell.
“We are encouraging businesses and residents to prepare for high winds by securing materials that could become airborne,” Martens said in an email. “Residents are also encouraged to trim dead tree branches to reduce the danger of these falling onto homes and vehicles during a storm.”