Be prepared when weather strikes

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Emergency Preparedness Week held May 5-11

HANTS NORTH: When bad weather strikes, it’s the provincials Emergency Management Office time to respond. But even before that, residents can do their part when weather warnings are issued to be prepared.

With Emergency Preparedness Week May 5-11, Rhonda Matthews, Emergency Management Planning Officer with N.S. EMO, took some time to speak to The Weekly Press about how residents can help them; what EMO’s role is; and what they do in times of emergencies, such as flooding like what is happening in N.B. and the Ottawa/Gatineau area.

Matthews explained how EMO would respond if similar would happen in low lying areas of N.S.

“Flooding has happened across the province in the past, and it can happen again,” she said. “If people are living close to a river, they should know what the warnings are and reports when they’re issued.

“Being aware of what the risks are for your specific property will then guide you on how you can mitigate that flooding.”

Matthews said residents can help them by having an emergency kit ready for when it’s needed.

“We encourage everyone to have a kit prepared and be ready to be self-sustainable for 72 hours, that’s if we couldn’t get to you,” she said. “The kit should have things like water, food for you and your pets, medications, and any other items you think you would need for that time period.

“Another thing folks can do is stay informed by listening for weather warnings when Environment Canada issues them, or an emergency that may be happening listen to the radio or go to a comfort centre to get that information.”

She said another thing people can do to help EMO is volunteer for Joint EMO teams, which Halifax has across the municipality.

“Those folks help do comfort checks with neighbours and send situational reports to the EMO manager, so she can make decision and respond when something major happens,” said Matthews.

The N.S. EMO helps prepare the province, mitigate, respond, and recover from an emergency.

“To do that we work with other government partners to make sure we’re ready when an emergency happens,” said Matthews. ““There are many layers of emergency management at work to keep Nova Scotians safe.”

Matthews said when a weather warning is issued residents should take it seriously.

“A weather warning is just a warning because we don’t know how it’s going to impact us as there are so many factors and it can change,” she said. “The best thing to do is to heed the warning and make the best preparations you can.”

On May 8, EMO will be testing the AlertReady system at 1:55 p.m. It will send text messages to cellphones. For more information, check out www.alertready.ca.

“It will simply have an alarm and you will get a text message to say that it was a test,” she said. “We’re working towards improving that so it can be as ready as it can be when an emergency happens.”