It was just a few months ago that we were told to prepare to respond to major calamities, two, perhaps three at a time.
Covid-19 certainly qualifies as one. We don't know how long it will last. We don't know how many lives it will claim. The best we can do is hunker down in isolation to avoid contracting the virus until new anti-virals or, ideally, an effective vaccine can become available.
This isolation/quarantine business isn't easy. That's especially true for those who normally need some measure of assistance who live alone. There are times when they'll have to pop out of the trenches and run the gauntlet.
Now it seems our isolation/quarantine efforts may be compounded by spring flooding.
There is a risk of spring flooding in central Canada this year, according to two separate water monitoring bodies.
It’s a serious problem that could complicate the drastic measures Canada is taking to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Community sandbagging will be more difficult when everyone is practicing social distancing and people are in self-isolation. The economic damage being caused by the virus has also destabilized people’s jobs and financial welfare, limiting their ability to absorb unexpected costs from flooding.
As just one example of how the virus is already impacting local flood preparedness activities, the community centre near Ottawa that became a staging ground for the regional flood response last year, and was toured by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, closed on March 16 due to COVID-19. A flood preparedness meeting scheduled for April 4 had to be moved online.
Quebec's public security minister has also warned that the risk of contamination from the virus means the province can’t open emergency shelters for people who are forced out of their flooded homes, as it did in 2019.
People are going to take action to respond to rising waters, even if it means breaking quarantine, said Daniel Henstra, associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo and a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation who studies climate change adaptation and flood risk.
“This is an emergency manager's nightmare scenario: two potentially serious emergencies happening at once,” he said in an interview. “The stage is set for what could be one of the most challenging flood seasons we have seen in a while."