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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FAQ: Your questions about the New Brunswick ice storm
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.

'Long days, long nights': ice storm recovery in New Brunswick will take months

Saint John firefighter and EMO manager Mike Carr 'takes care of the people taking care of people'

By Julia Wright, CBC News Posted: Feb 03, 2017 11:41 AM AT Last Updated: Feb 03, 2017 11:41 AM AT

A lot of folks in northern New Brunswick are "running on about four hours of sleep right now," says Mike Carr, a Saint John fire platoon chief who has just returned from the Acadian Peninsula.

"You get a 7 o'clock briefing at the start of the day, and then you're going until midnight," said Carr, who also manages Saint John's Emergency Measures Organization. On Thursday, he returned to Saint John from the Acadian Peninsula, where he joined power crews and military personnel responding to the ice storm.

Carr said his job was "to take care of the people that were taking care of people — to make sure that they were doing everything safely, and that they had what they needed to sustain the effort."

On his way, he met with first responders, shelter workers, and those operating community centres.

"I really got the full perspective of how complex this situation was," Carr said.

'No one is prepared for a week'

But while the municipal, provincial and federal first responders are "doing really well," he said, the ice conditions simply haven't improved over the past 10 days.

"The ice is just as bad on the trees now as when it first started because of the cold temperatures in that part of the province," he said.

Although in general, he said, residents were "very prepared," even the readiest are generally only geared up for a maximum of 72 hours without power.

"No one is prepared for a week," he said.

Nowhere to decompress

People are starting to feel the cumulative exhaustion of the emergency.

For "people living in the community, they don't have the option of going home and decompressing," he said. Volunteers and first responders are "working all day, then going home to a cold house."

"When people don't have the ability to decompress, their stress levels are rising."

While NB Power has said hopes to have power restored to most customers by the end of the weekend, the recovery phase is going to take much longer, Carr said.

"When I left yesterday, there were 450 personnel on the ground helping the Acadian Peninsula," he said. "Having all those agencies there flying the colours — that shows people all of these resources are there to support them," Carr said.

Because no matter how quickly crews work, "someone always has to be the last one to get turned back on," he said.

That's why the support from all levels of government isn't going anywhere any time soon.

"The provincial resources that have been given to the community will stay there for months," he said.

Beginning of February Cold Wave Day Two - 02/02/2017

New Brunswick


Max: -4.9°C
Min: -25.9°C

St. Leonard

Max: -6.1°C
Min: - 20.6°C

St, Stephen

Max: -0.2°C
Min: -18.4°C


Max: -3.7°C
Min: -20.7°C



Max: 23°F/-5.0°C
Min: -2°F/-18.9°C


Max: 28°F/-2.2°C
Min: -7°F/-21.7°C


Max: 26°F/-3.3°C
Min: -9°F/-22.8°C