© Christopher Gooding photo
Cumberland County’s Emergency Measures Officer Jim Hannon says keeping abreast of weather forecasts and alerts is a step residents can start making now as the potential for hurricane-like weather increases over the next three months.
UPPER NAPPAN – With the month of August coming to an end, the risk of hurricanes typically increase between September and November and Cumberland County’s Emergency Measures Officer is reminding residents an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Preparing your home and family before the heavy rain and high winds roll in goes a long way to make sure everyone gets through the storm.
“We’re always very cautious of the weather, this season included,” EMO Jim Hannon said. “It looks like this might be an active season coming up.”
During a hurricane high winds can be menacing but the bigger threat is from flooding, Hannon said. The Tantramar region surrounding Amherst, coastal communities along the Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Fundy are high probability places for storm surges and flooding, which can lead to road and culvert washouts, not to mention the threat of drowning whenever water levels rise or takeover known areas for flooding, like the Nappan River and River Philip near Oxford.
“We do have areas that are prone to flooding that are not zoned as flood areas,” Hannon said.
It all sounds bleak, but Hannon says getting through hurricane season doesn’t mean buying expensive bomb shelters or building hoards of food for the apocalypse.
In some ways, being prepared sounds very common.
“The next few weeks are a great time to make sure the small things are done. Make sure your rain gutters are clear. They move water away from your foundation, but make sure they’re channeling away from your house.
“Make sure the culvert in front of you house is cleared out and if you think its going to be a problem contact [your local] department of public works.”
Making sure your basement sump pump is plugged in and working properly is another step to take, Hannon says, as is taking a walk around your home to look at the vegetation.
“Dead branches can damage windows,” Hannon said.
Keeping up to date on the weather forecast is also important, Hannon said. Monitoring the weather via radio or television keeps you informed.
“And take heed to what they’re saying. Don’t panic, but take heed… bottom line, pay attention to what the emergency people are telling you. If they say stay off the roads, stay off the roads.”
“It looks like this might be an active season coming up.” Jim Hannon, Cumberland County Emergency Measures Officer
When the lights go down
Hurricanes bring with them the potential for lengthy power outages and Hannon says everyone should be prepared to face 72 hours on their own.
“Have enough food and water for you, your pets and your family for 72 hours,” he said. “Imagine what it would be like to turn off the power and water for three days.”
For extra water, people can fill up there bathtubs and if they don't have to use it can simply pull the drain. Food supplies, and a means of cooking it if necessary, are also important.
It’s sometimes impossible for families to stay together when a weather emergency happens and preparing ahead of time how families will reunite can go a long way to avoid panic. Hannon recommends families come up with a plan in case they are separated during an emergency so everyone can reunite safely.
“If you are separated or get separated, have a pre-designated meeting place or contact person. If the kids are at school, you’re cut off from home, the phones are down, how are you going to get in touch with each other? It could be an uncle, family friend or neighbor – someone you trust – that becomes the contact person.”
When the weather clears
After the storm, it’s important to remain diligent, Hannon said. People should be careful of broken branches, possible roofing nails and, especially downed power lines. If anyone sees a downed power line, don’t assume someone has already contacted the appropriate agency. Report it to Nova Scotia Power and do not approach it.
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