© Star photo by Frank Gale
In preparation of an impending storm, Bill Pike of Stephenville‚Äôs public works department is seen blowing snow on Gillis Drive on Monday.
STEPHENVILLE With 160 cms of snow already on the ground in Stephenville and a forecast for a wind and sleet storm Monday night and into Tuesday, the town was making emergency preparations on Monday.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre doing our best to prepare for the worst, but hoping for the best,‚ÄĚ Mayor Tom O‚ÄôBrien said during an interview on Monday afternoon, just after coming out of an emergency planning meeting.
Jerome Hynes, a weather observer at Stephenville airport, said the amount of snow so far this winter season is more snow than was received each individual year for a number of years now.
Wind gusts of up to 160 km are expected in some areas of Western Newfoundland through the night, along with freezing rain, then heavy rains of up to 20 mm in areas on Tuesday as the temperature rises up to six degrees, only to fall into the minus side again later in the day.
O‚ÄôBrien said in preparation for the storm that is forecasted, the town‚Äôs public works department was busy on Monday widening streets and clearing storm drains to hopefully handle the amount of precipitation expected.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre already at a volatile state when it come to problems with electricity and this storm has the potential for an increased impact,‚ÄĚ he said.
He said as a precautionary measure in the event of a prolonged electricity loss, the town is arranging to have warming centres set up, with the first one to be at the Lions Club on Woodland Street. Steps are underway to have emergency power there.
If more warming stations are needed, others will be set up and people will be directed to those locations, which could include the Armouries and Stephenville Airport.
O‚ÄôBrien is encouraging people to conserve as much electricity as they can by turning off lights not in use, delaying doing laundry and other measures to lessen the load on the system.
He said the town is doing its part by shutting off the streetlights on one side of Main Street, the Regional Aquatic Centre is shut down for maintenance and Stephenville Dome is shut down for new few days.
O‚ÄôBrien said residents can help by using less water because with a power outage the town will have trouble providing water. In such instances there are increased fire risks and the town wants to have enough water to respond to a fire.
He encourages residents to check on neighbours and friends if there is a prolonged power outage, especially those ill or having special needs. He said if seniors, or others who need help, have trouble getting to a warming station, to call the Stephenville Fire Department at 643-8378 and arrangements for transportation will be made to get them there.
O‚ÄôBrien said all the town‚Äôs staff is on full alert, especially the public works department and they will attempt to handle whatever comes their way.
‚ÄúIf need be, we will bring in whatever resources we have to deal with whatever comes up. We already have some contractors on standby,‚ÄĚ he said.