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Mayor Peter Kelly’s Hurricane Juan experience, as told to Erica Butler

click to enlarge 11.18_city_peter_kelly.jpg

At around 2pm on Sunday afternoon I arrived at the Emergency Operations Centre over in Dartmouth. Basically I was there for the duration. I got home late Monday evening.

What we did was get a feel for what was going on. We called the Emergency Measures Advisory Committee together, which consists of the deputy mayor and four other councillors who came in with staff.

We discussed the need to declare a state of emergency. We discussed the pros and cons, asked staff for their recommendations, and to get a full understanding of what we could and could not do under that situation. We didn’t really know what to expect, other than we knew the hurricane was on the way, it was heading directly for us and we had to be prepared for it in all aspects. At 9pm we declared a state of emergency.

On Sunday evening in the EOC, we were monitoring the phone calls that were coming in at the start. We were dealing with the evacuations, and the locations of where people were going to go, just the normal process for an event of that type. We did have the opportunity on a couple of occasions to look out and stand outside to see the force and effect of the winds and the rains. We were of course, monitoring the TV and other systems that were still in place at that time. We did lose power, but we had a backup generator, which allowed us to keep operating.

There were updates every two hours and we followed the flow. When the storm died off we had a better idea of what was going on. Once the day broke we were able to do a further analysis of the impact. We certainly knew that we were up against some challenges in restoring power and issues of the bus operations, ferry operations and just our general operations.

The atmosphere was upbeat. I don’t mean upbeat, but everyone knew they had a job to do, and they were up to the challenge. We were concerned of course, once we heard mid-morning about the loss of life of the paramedic. That was a down point. And further on in the morning we found out that there was a second loss of life as well. These are things that you don’t want to hear.

Early Monday morning, about 5:30, I was over at the Halifax waterfront to try to get an understanding of the impact on the ferry terminal, and during the daytime I took trips around to see what had gone on, what the impact was.

There was a positive side to this too. All the way through, people were out on their streets talking to each other, helping each other. Just to see the camaraderie and support that was out there, whether it was barbeques or putting on coffee, or just checking on their neighbours, it was a very positive thing for us to see. It’s one you don’t forget. That was very reassuring to see.

On the other hand, the destruction and demolition—the real force and effect. When you see the downed lines, the amount of trees. It was said we haven’t seen this kind of tree devastation since the Halifax Explosion.


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Vol 24, No 21
October 20, 2016

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