Friday, February 03, 2017

High-level review of ice storm response in New Brunswick ordered by premier

Top-ranking civil servant to file report by July 31 with aim of improving response to storms

CBC News Posted: Feb 03, 2017 3:06 PM AT Last Updated: Feb 03, 2017 3:06 PM AT

A high-level review of the response to the ice storm disaster over the last 10 days has been ordered by Premier Brian Gallant.

The government's highest-ranking civil servant has been asked to carry out the review and provide a report with recommendations by July 31.

"We are very proud of the work that everyone did at this very difficult time," Gallant said. "We need, however, to see what worked well and what could be done better next storm.

"With the effects of climate change, there will be more events like this in our country. We must be prepared and we must develop a culture of continuous improvement so we are better each and every time."

Along with the report by Judy Wagner, the clerk of the executive council and head of the public service, internal reviews will be carried out by NB Power and the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization. Stakeholder feedback will also be gathered.

No politicians allowed

"It is our feeling that no politician should be involved in the overseeing or the writing of this review," Gallant said at a news conference in Fredericton.

"However, we certainly welcome and even encourage politicians … and many others to participate in the public consultations that will happen, so we can hear firsthand what were some of the challenges and also what went well in our response to this storm."

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NB Power and EMO carried out internal reviews after previous significant weather events, such as post-tropical storm Arthur in 2014, and they resulted in improvements, said Gallant. However, because of the significance of the ice storm, the government felt a broader review was in order, he said.

The ice storm that began in southern New Brunswick on Jan. 24 and spread to the northeast the following day led to 133,000 homes and businesses being without electricity at its peak. About 200,000 customers lost service at some point as a result of the storm.

There have also been two deaths and 45 people hospitalized to date as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, typically from the use of generators or barbecues in garages or homes.


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