Saturday 28 December 2013

Ice Storm 2013 –much anger and vitriol

They are making progress. Here is the latest, Dec 29th. The news is full of complaints, rather than the heroes, and the hard-working helpers out there.

CBC is happy to interview Deputy Mayor Kelly and blame him, grilling him on communication and failures, r
ather than highlighting accomplishments; what they did, what they learned, and what they could do better.

Toronto Hydro is making much progress, as well. There are issues with individual home whose piping is broken, people may not be home, and individual home owners will have to hire electricians to fix the pipes that house the wiring.

The latest tallies show power is still out for about 6,000 customers in Toronto, just under 7,000 in New Brunswick, and 7,600 in Quebec. 

Our pipes are buried from the poles to the house, but we live in the country.

Ice storm recovery expected to cost Toronto Hydro more than $8-million

Some call for the burying of wires, but this requires much in the way of city and concrete.
They are promising to compensate those who lost food. That will be interesting! I recall, living in Osgoode, some residents were crowing about how they went to the municipality and were given $200 for lost food, but they'd had generators the whole time. Besides, if you freezer was in a cold house, most of the food was OK!

Cathy Crowe, RN and activist, a street nurse with credentials, has come out hard, complaining about the city's response to the Toronto Ice Storm 2013. Toronto residents are shrill, screaming about the city's reaction to the storm. Most have not realized the extent of the damage, nor how difficult it is.

Power outages from west to east
Crowe is getting great media coverage on CBC, and said there was a "dismal response," which was harmful to citizens. At this point, the only deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning, days after the ice hit.
She is not talking about the hydro and tree work, she said, but those stuck in apartment buildings should have had some help. However, just as with the damage after a hurricane or tornado, the big problem arises from the debris in the streets. Trees were down everywhere.
Look for the helpers:

Tales of frustration, benevolence in wake of ice storm outages 

Many people are frustrated. About 26,000 Toronto households and other power customers remained without power Friday, six days after rain turned to freezing ice. Another 8,000 were still in the dark elsewhere in the province. At the height of the blackout, about 600,000 Ontario customers were without power.
Staff and volunteers with the Red Cross have been working around the clock, distributing cots, blankets and bottled water to makeshift shelters. Many hotels offered discounts to guests fleeing their frigid homes. Restaurants donated food. Power workers travelled to Ontario from Manitoba to help reconnect homes to the electrical grid.
Not only that, but citizens were warned to stay off of the streets, as downed power lines, underneath branches, could electrocute people. Why would they risk workers out on the streets at this time?
How difficult is this? Photo from TO Hydro

 Everyone was at-risk

"This is a people, and a social welfare emergency," she added. "Serious things are happening to people." Seniors, pregnant woman, those with health conditions, families with small children, and people who are isolated are most at-risk. That said, the first day there were 600,000 without power across the region.
I know when my son-in-law was on the stump, he was exhausted going door-to-door, and you cannot visit many homes per day. The crisis extended from the southern portions of the province, well across to Kingston! Where were these workers going to come from?
Mayor Susan Fennell, Brampton

What more could have been done?

A better community communication plan, perhaps in some of the hubs, in the warming centres, Riverdale, Lesleyville, East York and West York, said Crowe. The debris is all over the place, on the roads, on private property, it will take weeks to get it all picked up. Yes, communication when you don't have hydro! It's tough!

An emergency door-to-door plan, to ID vulnerable people, with social workers and nurses from the city within the first 24 hours. She said there should have been a recall of vulnerable health staff. (In 2011, there were over 95,000 seniors living alone in Toronto. How would they contact these
Many do this dangerous work.
My father-in-law died in an
industrial accident.

"They should have asked reservists and army personnel to come." Even the supply crews who came from Sudbury, Ottawa, Manitoba, and Michigan.

My question: how would those without the power have been contacted by employers?
They should have known how to recognize those who had hypothermia. They should have had information on how they were keeping warm, and how were they heating their place. This might have prevented the 5 deaths from those who brought generators into garages, and BBQs into their homes, where they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some had gotten power back day 3 or 4, and didn't know that there were emergency warming stations. How would these people she mentioned (nurses, social workers, military) have known that to begin action? Many of these people live in neighbouring commuter towns. There was no GO Train to get them into work. Without power, gas stations wouldn't have been able to put gas in their cars. The roads filled with debris from west to east, Kingston.

There are still people without power in city housing, this, on day 7. These are the people who need to be contacted. Those with money went to hotels. There would have been a lot of time wasted trying to figure out who was still home, and who had left.

Extended: Mayor Ford has warning for residents

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has the latest on the ice storm recovery, and warns residents of the dangers of melting ice and falling trees. (Dec. 28)

In fact, the Toronto mayor asked folks to check in on one another from day 1. That would mean that those with power would talk to those without. This is what we did in Osgoode in Ice Storm '98. By the 2nd week, we had community shelters, where army personnel were located to help those with many branches. This wasn't the case in Toronto. Many communities came up or down, over the days following.
Today, Toronto was down to outages for ~15,000, then went back up over 25,000 overnight with the warmer temperatures.
Dangerous work

Ice is falling everywhere, with a worker getting konked on the helmet.

There are still 8,000 in Quebec without power.
Eastern NB 11,000 without. (3 more days)
Manitoba has a freezing cold warning, with blizzards, 10 - 15 cm last night, and high winds today.
It's a mess everywhere, one way or another.
Alberta now has an H1N1 breakout.

IceStorm98 Study - A recorded history
This Queen’s study examined local response to the ice storm in the area from Kingston to Brockville. Included in the study were the Cities of Kingston and Brockville, the Town of Gananoque, the Village of Athens, and the Townships of Frontenac Islands (Wolfe Island in particular), Front of Leeds and Lansdowne, Front of Escott, Front of Yonge, Elizabethtown and Rear of Yonge and Escott.
Represented are a variety of municipalities ranging from Kingston, the second largest city in Eastern Ontario (population: 110,000), to the Townships which, typical of many Eastern Ontario Municipalities, are largely rural and sparsely populated.


Powell River Books said...

I hear it's really bad from all the news reports. Hope you are doing OK. - Margy

Billy Blue Eyes said...

You lot are not the only one with problems, there were at 9000 people with out power in our country due to floods and that was just outside London.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That is a horribly long time to be without power in the middle of winter.

Anonymous said...

Definitely need a strong advocate that weather situation ~ ice storms seem to be the worst! ~ lots of positive energy coming your way ~ thanks for your feedback ~ I do tend to try and 'keep my poetry simple and clear but when being emotional doesn't always work ~ Happy New Year coming your way ~ carol, xxx

VioletSky said...

It is a difficult situation - for those without power and for those trying to restore it. It seems in every crisis there is anger at the response after a few days. Perhaps we rely on electricity for our communication too much - there isn't as much neighbourhood chat among people especially in apartment buildings where we seem to live in isolation at the best of times.
The scale of this disaster is staggering, really.

Kay said...

My daughter called to tell us that when they returned from St. Louis, their house was at 48 degrees and the furnace had stopped working. My poor granddaughter's beloved fish had died. I hope you stay warm.