Langley Emergency Program Coordinator Ginger Sherlock with a new addition to the program, a portable radio antenna that can be raised as high as 85 feet. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

VIDEO: Preparing for the worst: Langley rehearses for disaster

Think ‘Katrina,’ think ‘hurricane Sandy,’ disaster coordinator warns

If the worst happens, Langley residents won’t be able to rely on telephones, whether they use landlines or cellphones.

Power will, almost certainly, be out and the internet will be down.

Making contact with the outside world will have to be done using generators and a mobile antenna that can be raised as high as 85 feet to make voice and digital connections.

At the Langley City firehall one weekend in June, a group of volunteers were rehearsing for the moment they hope never comes, hunched over computer screens and powerful radio receivers during a 24-hour simulation by the the Langley Emergency Program (LEP) as part of an International Field Day exercise.

While that was underway in one room, in another, visitors were welcome to educate themselves about disaster preparedness with emergency program coordinator Ginger Sherlock.

“When you think of Katrina, when you think of Hurricane Sandy, that’s what we’re practising for,” Sherlock said.

Sherlock said there have been some significant additions to the emergency program, one being the portable radio tower looming overt the firehall in the back parking lot.

“It goes up to 85 feet, Sherlock explained, “but we only have it up to 50 feet because we would have to anchor it against the wind [if it was fully extended].”

It means that, even if the radio antenna permanently attached to the firehall roof is unable to work for whatever reason, communication can be maintained anywhere with the generator-powered mobile tower.

As well, this year, the radio links went beyond voice communication to add digital connectivity.

READ MORE: Pet first aid kicks off emergency preparedness efforts in Langley

During a previous May rehearsal in Murrayville, Sherlock cautioned Langley residents need to be “ready to camp” outdoors for two weeks in the event of a major disaster because they won’t be able to count on outside agencies and resources to take care of them, she elaborated.

That means having provisions in place for shelter, food, clothing, water, and sanitation to carry the family through for that length of time.

The Emergency Plan for Langley is based on an ‘all hazards’ approach, and is tested once a year by staff from both municipalities and the BC Ministry of Public Safety, BC Ministry of Health, Emergency Management BC , RCMP, BC Ambulance,and other agencies.

The Langley emergency program itself is a joint program run by the City and Township of Langley, which started in 1996. Local governments were mandated by the province to ensure the community was ready to respond and recover from potential risks.

For more information and emergency tips, people can visit www.langleyprepared.ca.

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Volunteer David Jenkins maintains a radio link to the outside world during a simulated disaster at the Langley City firehall. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

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