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Stay Off Roadways - Weather Putting Strain on City


EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE – THIS IS NOT REAL*

November 18, 2008 – The second storm in Mother Nature's wicked one-two punch for Northwestern Ontario has caused increased power outages and service interruptions throughout the City and outlying municipalities. Eight other municipalities in the region have now declared an emergency including Ignace, Gillies, Oliver-Paipoonge, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Pickle Lake, Sioux Narrows and Greenstone.

The City has now requested help from the Province during this emergency and members of the Canadian Forces have set up a base camp on the CLE Grounds to begin assisting.

Hydro & Telephone
In the last 24 hours, the City of Thunder Bay has received over 25 cm of snow and nearly 20 mm of freezing rain causing some power and telephone lines to collapse. In light of the extreme ice conditions, approximately 10,000 people have lost electrical power to their homes. Hydro crews are making every effort possible to restore power. Thunder Bay Hydro has requested assistance from available City Roads Crews and the Armed Forces to gain access to hydro infrastructure should the need to repair electricity feeder damage arise.

Northwest winds of 40 km/h gusting to 70 km/h are occurring in many areas of the region. The winds combined with the recently fallen snow have created wide-spread reduced visibility on the roadways – less than 1km locally. Motorists are advised to stay off roadways and exercise extreme caution while driving if travel is absolutely necessary, as visibilities could quickly diminish to near zero in blowing snow.

Emergency Services, Schools & City Facilities
In response, all emergency services (police, fire and EMS) are operating at and beyond capacity and response times have been significantly impacted. All City facilities that have power are operating and some are operating on generators. All schools and school bus services have been cancelled. All children in daycare centres were picked up this morning by their families and there are currently no children in the day care centres.  Day care staff are gathering supplies (food, diapers, mats, etc.) in case emergency shelter(s) are set up. All Transit services have been cancelled until further notice. Garbage collection has also been cancelled until further notice. City recreation facilities are closed until further notice and all recreation programs have been cancelled. The Mayor and City Manager's offices and other essential Departments and Divisions have been relocated from Victoriaville to the Mountdale Administration Building due to power outages and the absence of a back-up generator at Victoriaville. Facilities & Fleet has activated the Generator Refueling Schedule at 29 facilities across the Corporation. All social service appointments were cancelled when public transit ceased. Social Services staff are collecting whatever supplies are on hand and preparing them for transport to an emergency shelter(s) should the need arise.

Roads
The City's Roads Division is continuing with major plowing and sanding operations on all arterial and major roads and estimate they will begin plowing into residential streets as early as 8 am tomorrow, if the weather does not change. Sidewalk plowing has been abandoned to keep Sidewalk Operators in reserve to operate sanders and other critical equipment. Other priority operations are being carried out to ensure access to the following facilities the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Fire Stations, Superior North Emergency Medical Services Stations, Police Station, Older Adult Homes. Combination plow/sander trucks have been deployed to help Facilities and Fleet escort fuel re-supply trucks to various City facilities that are operating on generators. The Roads Division is also using qualified staff from the Environment Division and Parks to facilitate staffing needs during this event.

Health Unit
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is only now delivering critical services related to infectious disease control and providing information on public health issues related to the emergency (i.e., food spoilage, potable water).


Safety Information
"Citizens are to be reminded to make every effort to conserve heat in their homes until this severe weather passes and the emergency situation is over," said Greg Hankkio, Deputy Fire Chief. "However, be reminded that using alternative heat sources, such as barbecues, naphtha stoves, etc. is extremely dangerous. Use of devices with open flame in a home drastically increases the danger of fire and creates the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning."

Residents are encouraged to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary and have an emergency preparedness kit that will allow families to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of an emergency. The kit should contain supplies which consider the specific requirements of every family member, including those with disabilities, special needs, children, seniors and pets, food, water, medication, a battery operated radio and extra batteries. For more information about what should be included in your emergency preparedness kit visit http://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca.

Tune in to local radio or TV stations for details and updates if power is available. Avoid using the telephone unless your call is very urgent. Leave the lines free for emergency workers. Please call 911 only if you require emergency help.

Updates on this emergency situation will be issued as they become available.

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Contact: Valerie Marasco, Communications Officer, 625-2438, cell: 621-4151

*All information in this release is for the exercise and is not real.