Corner Brook implements plan to deal with forecasted wind and rain

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Mike Dolter, left, the City of Corner Brook’s chief administrative officer, and Chief Neville Wheaton of the Corner Brook Fire Department take a quick look at the city hall electrical panel in advance of Monday night’s inclement weather. The city set up an emergency operations room at city hall.

CORNER BROOK  The City of Corner Brook implemented its Hurricane Readiness Plan on Monday in anticipation of severe wind, rain and freezing rain forecast to hit this region overnight and into today.

With the possibility of 30 to 55 millimetres of rain falling on the area by this afternoon, combined with wind gusts of between 120 and 160 kilometres per hour, Mayor Charles Pender said city staff “are very concerned.”

He said putting the plan, which also covers events like heavy rainfall and flooding, in motion was all about getting prepared.

To do that, city crews spent the past few days widening roads, which helped to expose catch basins. There are about 40 catch basins and about 15 headwalls where Pender said the city normally has problems, so attention was being focused on those. Equipment was also readied.

“Our loaders have been equipped with some snowbaskets in case we have to remove some snow quickly,” said Pender, adding the city can and has reached out to contractors and other organizations to ensure equipment is available when needed.

He said normal work trucks were also equipped with sand bags, shovels and rakes as needed.

As for manpower, the mayor said the need would be assessed by staff on a regular basis as the weather system moves through the area.

Pender was also concerned about the impact the weather could have on power in this area with the expected freezing rains and high winds. Power outages in this area have been common over the past week as Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power implemented rolling outages to deal with demands placed on the province’s struggling power system.

Michele Coughlan, director of corporate communications with Newfoundland Power, said Monday evening that rolling outages were not expected to impact this region Monday night and into today.

“My sense is, if there are any more, it would be in the St. John’s and surrounding areas, not on the west coast.”

Coughlan said power crews from this area had been dispatched to the east coast to help with power issues there, but on Monday afternoon those crews were sent home in anticipation of the impending storm system.

As part of its storm preparations, Coughlan said Newfoundland Power mobilized its crews, making sure workers are located in areas forecasted to be hit the hardest. The company also has its trucks ready and line staff and employees on standby.

“We’re basically ready to go to respond to any outages that may result from any kind of weather system, including the one that’s being forecasted for the west coast.”

In addition to making its own preparations, the city has also been in contact with other agencies like the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Canadian Red Cross.

Judy Bond, the Red Cross service centre co-ordinator for western Newfoundland, said Monday afternoon that her group was in “preparedness mode,” which included touching base with all the volunteer teams in the region.

She said the Red Cross has volunteers who carry a cellphone 24-7.

“If a call comes through, whether it’s a house fire, or a flood or a municipality who needs assistance, it goes to the volunteer who is carrying the phone here locally, so that they in turn then can respond and assist where need be.

“We’re working at this all the time. In the event we are needed, we’re ready to go.”

The weather is also playing havoc with Marine Atlantic. Monday’s 12:45 p.m. crossings from Port aux Basques and North Sydney were cancelled and the company’s website, www.marine-atlantic.ca, is advising passengers that the weather delay could be extended into today.

By 6 p.m. Monday, the RCMP was advising drivers to stay off the Trans-Canada Highway between Stephenville and Port aux Basques due to whiteout conditions. Police said the Wreckhouse area was impassable.

Meanwhile, Pender was hopeful all the preparations wouldn’t be needed.

“I’m hoping that we’re going through all this for nothing, other than it’s a good exercise,” he said. “Hopefully this blows past us or around us, and we get through it unscathed.”

The hurricane plan is being overseen from an emergency operations centre at city hall.

Anyone requiring emergency assistance from the city are advised to call 637-1666.

The Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-222-9597. Bond noted the agency has flood cleanup kits available to people who need them.

 

 

Weblinks

www.cornerbrook.com

www.weather.gc.ca

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, Red Cross, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Marine Atlantic RCMP Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Port aux Basques, Newfoundland North Sydney Stephenville

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