AMHERST, N.S. – Cumberland County’s EMO coordinator says residents should get use to severe storms and more frequent power outages.
“The systems and the intensity of them are only going to get worse with climate change,” Mike Johnson said. “Think of this past weekend and the amenities you normally have, what did you reach for first when the power went out? Do you have an emergency plan, do you have an emergency kit? Do you have water, food, backup power, flashlights?”
He said people need to be prepared to be on their own for at least 72 hours during severe weather or other emergencies.
The storm dumped more than 60 millimeters of rain on the Amherst area Saturday while winds gusted to 104 km/h at the Nappan research station and even higher at the county’s municipal office in Upper Nappan, where a peak gust of 106 km/h was recorded.
The heavy rain and wind combined to knock down numerous trees across the county and at its highest more than 11,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning.
For some, power was not restored until Monday or Tuesday and Johnson said there were additional outages on Tuesday.
The EMO coordinator said it reminds of him of the winter of 2015 with the frequency of storms. With the storm over the weekend and another 50 mm of rain expected overnight Tuesday and more rain on Saturday, Johnson said he will be keeping a close eye on rivers in various areas of the county.
“We’ve gotten into a pattern that’s very active. There’s an El Nino developing in the Pacific and when they happen we seem to get these increased numbers of storms that come across the United States and up the eastern seaboard to the Maritimes,” Johnson said.
While not everyone can access a generator or wood stove, especially in more urban centres, Johnson said they would definitely be a benefit in keeping homes warm in winter and preventing pipes from freezing.
“There aren’t enough plumbers in Cumberland County should we have a massive power outage followed by a big dip in temperatures. That’s why it’s important to have a backup source of heat,” Johnson said.
Johnson said global warming is bringing about more frequent and more intense storms. The oceans are getting warmer, the air is getting warmer and Johnson said sometimes this moisture is wrung out of the atmosphere like a sponge during times of severe weather.
“This is the new norm,” he said.