Telegraph Creek Wildfire Recovery Newsletter – March 15, 2019

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MARCH 2019


  • Introduction – What does recovery after a disaster look like? And what does a recovery manager do?
  • What’s being done in your community?
  • Upcoming recovery dates
  • Contact Information for Recovery Manager

recovery newsletter

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What is Community Recovery and how does it look in a community following a natural disaster.

Community Recovery is the coordinated process of supporting affected communities, families and individuals in the reconstruction of the built environment and the restoration of their emotional, social and economic wellbeing, as well as the natural environment.

The Community Recovery Manager plays a major role in leading the social recovery support to individuals and the community in a disaster. The position works closely with community organizations/agencies, small & medium-sized businesses, and other local government officials to establish effective, coordinated and collaborative relationships to deliver services to affected communities and individuals throughout the recovery process.

The categories that a Recovery Managers needs to work with are; Environmental, Social, Economic, and Infrastructure.

For the Telegraph Creek-Tahltan community, the first priorities were to make the community safe, get essential services back, and get enough housing for its residents.


Early Recovery Efforts (August 15th – December 21st 2018)

Within the first month after the immediate fire danger was over in Telegraph Creek it was necessary to do a series of environmental assessments to reassure the community that:

  • water was safe,
  • the local slopes (banks and hills) were not at threat of sliding
  • local soils were safe from contaminants
  • houses needed to be assessed for smoke and structural damage
  • and debris from burnt structures needed to be tested before TNDC started work on the debris clean-up

The engineering firm Urban Systems and sub -contractor Golder and Associates did these assessments and the results were provided to the community. The Water was deemed potable, the slopes were deemed stable but continual assessment needed after spring thaw, houses were cleaned, insulation replaced in ceiling and new paint on interior walls. NAPP industries partnered up with TNDC and they did a hazard assessment of the burnt house debris and found that there was lead and asbestos present in a few of the buildings (The Catholic Church and a few of the older homes). This hazardous material was handled and disposed of in the industry standard legally required for both people and environment.

For the Tahltan – Telegraph Creek community there were many homes lost as well as community infrastructure like the Head Start and Nurses Housing to the fire which were the priority to deal with to get the community back home.

Early housing construction work included developing a new sub-division (water works, power, internet, phone, foundations, septic systems) which consisted of 7 modular homes, the finishing of the two Quash Rd, homes and a new modular home for Tahltan elder Edna Quock

Currently the Head Start has not been rebuilt but has been relocated temporarily to the Telegraph Creek School. The nurses are temporarily being housed in two of the modular homes on the new sub-division.

Current Recovery Work (January 21st to Present)

Starting January 21, 2019 wildfire recovery management officially started for the Telegraph Creek

community. As stated above some work started earlier. The recovery management team which consists of Trina Anne Zubek Gleeson and myself have been concentrating our efforts on the following:

  • Creating a Recovery management Plan for both the Tahltan Reserves and the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine This process is continual and ongoing as new tasks surface.
  • Connecting Telegraph Creek residents with supports like Red Cross Canada
  • Creating an Un-met needs committee to deal with both communities
  • Listening and hearing (attend Band meetings) community concerns about such topics; like Hot spots still burning in territory and the need to deal with them, question like is the bog smoke dangerous to humans etc. and finding answers for the

The recovery management plan is essentially a road map of necessary tasks that need to be done for the community in order to resume a new but different life post disaster. Within the development of this plan we must speak with provincial ministries like Forests Lands and Resources and Rural Development to discuss environmental work that the province plans to undertake and other stakeholders and organizations like BC Wildfire to understand what work they will be performing this year post wildfire.

Upcoming Recovery and Planning Dates

In the Telegraph Creek (February 27th) and Dease Lake (March 1st) Band meetings I heard the following concerns:

Question 1: What is happening with the current hot spots burning in territory. This is a major concern for the community. The community worries that these fires could ignite into a larger fire.

Answer 1: I had conversation with Regional District manager Rick Boehm about this concern and he contacted BCWS about the Hot Spot issue. BCWS will start flying the area to identify the hot spots as weather permits with the intention to fully extinguish the priority areas no later than April. By the end of next week BCWS will roll out a significant update bulletin highlighting what the plan is moving forward.

Question 2: There is questions around how the fire was dealt with initially and if the fire could have had a different outcome if it was handled differently from the beginning.

Answer 2: BCWS is going to have a post incident community debrief with the Telegraph Creek community to answer questions about the wildfire.

Question 3: What is happening to the local Cemeteries that have sustained damage from the wildfire? It is important to families to have these cemeteries rehabilitated.

Answer 3: Disaster Financial Assistance has allotted $15,000 for this work. Trina Anne will get a meeting coordinated with the families about how this project will proceed.

Trina Anne will contact families or you can contact her at

Question 4: Is the bog smoke harmful to human health?

Answer 4: I have had contact with First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) about this and they are currently connecting with Ministry of Environment and see if there will be a Mobile Testing Unit that can test the smoke and get answers for the community. It is my hope to have news for the community on this topic in the next newsletter.

Forest Lands and Operations is currently working out contract details with TNDC to do a seeding project for the Telegraph Creek Watershed. This project will start before the snow melts.

On March 6th the Venturi Group from Monaco came to the community testing their Electric SnowCat. The company Gave the Tahltan Band $75,000 for recovery efforts and $25,000 to the Regional District.

Future Community Planning

Along with the Nation’s Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP), there will be several other recovery actions led by Tahltan Band Council, in particular:

The Physical Development Plan (PDP):

The PDP is an essential step that will allow TBC to start the reconstruction program in accordance with its visions and values. It will also serve as a critical financial tool that helps define the costs and phases of reconstruction. The PDP will incorporate the most recent information gathered after the wildfires, including geotechnical and vegetation assessments, water and septic system assessments, house inspections, etc… Constraint maps will be created, specifically for wildfire protection, and strategies around land use will be developed.

The PDP will be a tool to help the community decide where and how reconstruction will happen.

  • A Housing Reconstruction Program:

The program will define the housing needs for the short and long term. It will be a guide to help the community come up with criteria for lot development and house construction, with a focus on

affordability and building types, energy efficiency, accessibility needs, fire protection, repairs, etc.

  • An Infrastructure Recovery Program

Infrastructure recovery will include water quality and slope stability monitoring.

Unmet Needs Committee

On Monday March 11th, 2019 the Telegraph Wildfire Recovery Un-met needs committee met for their first meeting as a group.

This committee consists of:

  • Rocky Jackson – Tahltan Band Councilor
  • Larry Nanninga – Manager of the Dease Lake Samaritans Purse
  • Kim Rowe – The Peoples Haven Manager
  • Rick Boehm – Regional District of Kitimat Stikine Manager – Thornhill Fire Department
  • And myself Derek Ingram-Joint Recovery manager for the Tahltan Band and the Regional District

This committee was formed to address the un-met needs of the Telegraph Creek community that were affected by the 2018 Wildfire.

A form will be put in residents’ mailboxes to fill out. The questionnaire will be asking for specifics on something that you need as a priority for where you live. An example is a chainsaw, brush saw or generator.

There is a finite/limited amount of funds available for addressing un-met needs for the Telegraph Creek community so bigger items like quads etc. will not be considered.

Telegraph Creek Recovery Newsletters will be coming out every two weeks.



Box 234 Dease Lake V0C 1L0 | (250) 771-3119