Reader commends Expositor editorial on emergency planning

“Your editorial should be required reading for our local politicians and all municipalities”

To the Expositor:

Re. ‘Planning should happen before there is an emergency,’ January 17, Page 4.

Reading this editorial and the story to which it relates brought back memories, some frightening, some very reassuring. My wife and I lived through the mentioned 1998 Ice Storm in rural Eastern Ontario, and without hydro power for just shy of three weeks. The sound of crashing forests surrounding us and the utter darkness and, for the initial two weeks, no telephone service, it was unnerving to say the least. What was heartwarming was the way neighbours and complete strangers assisted each other, and how the small town of Kemptville instantly jumped into action with shelters opened almost within 24 hours; organizing groups of volunteers and the untiring action and assistance from a totally volunteer fire department, the local OPP, and later, the Canadian Military. Very little of this was made up on the spur of the moment but had previously been planned out by a municipality with foresight. Instructions were left in rural mail boxes or by volunteers knocking on doors just to check on the well-being of occupants. If one had a problem, instruction was to hang a coloured flag (red or yellow preferred) on your mail box or front door and a regular patrol would stop in. The town gathered generators and distributed where needed. A local wood fired bakery worked around the clock, cooking thawing freezer food to be shared in shelters or warming centers. The only disorganized thing about it was Hydro itself, who was ill equipped to even keep municipalities or effected residents updated with progress or recovery estimates.

So, your editorial is bang on the money. Our current municipality tells us we all should put aside two to four days of food, water, batteries, medication, etc, and, of course, they are right, but, if there is no electrical power and possibly, no phones (no, not everybody has a cell phone) and it’s the dead of winter, where does one go to keep warm, unless they have a natural gas or similar stove not requiring electricity. Here, we have one radio station that also goes off air in a power failure. It is unknown if there are any town buildings equipped with a generator and could be used as an emergency shelter. This is most disconcerting, especially with our major demographic of seniors and many in apartment buildings. Your editorial should be required reading for our local politicians and all municipalities, before it’s too late. 

Thank you.

Keith H. Moyer

Elliot Lake