Flood was no disaster

I feel badly for our neighbours involved in the Bowker Avenue water main debacle.

I feel badly for our neighbours involved in the Bowker Avenue water main debacle.

The events of Tuesday morning were by all accounts frightening, confusing and a darn nuisance. But not ‘disastrous’ by a long shot.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes a disaster as “an occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human-caused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries.”

In Oak Bay we experienced a technological accident that caused relatively mild and fully reversible property damage, no deaths and no injuries that I am aware of.

I was baffled and annoyed to hear people criticizing Oak Bay council and public works for not laying on some kind of magic carpet ride to mitigate the event while it was still unfolding.

We must be careful how we use the concept of disasters and emergencies. This event qualified as a construction mishap, not an emergency.

The work crews involved were no doubt the fastest responders to this event, fully occupied in trying to halt the unexpected breach in the shortest possible time period. The damage that was eventually done could not have been prevented by having some imaginary team of volunteers and bureaucrats appear out of nowhere.

God help us all when the big one hits. If our level of self-reliance is so weakened that we forget what to do in the face of rising water, what will we do on the night of the earthquake? Wait for help? Complain to the media? Rant about whose fault it was?

Perhaps our community motto should be: “When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles … scream and shout.”

David Wilkinson

Oak Bay


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