Get­ting res­i­dents pre­pared for dis­as­ter

Town­ship ed­u­ca­tional ses­sion in West Mon­trose the lat­est response to last sum­mer’s flood­ing

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

AP­PROACH­ING A YEAR SINCE a tor­rent of wa­ter swept through the Grand River sys­tem, flood­ing parts of Wool­wich and sur­round­ing town­ships, of­fi­cials are hop­ing res­i­dents are now bet­ter pre­pared.

An open house event Mon­day even­ing in West Mon­trose fo­cused on emer­gency pre­pared­ness rather than as­sess­ing what hap­pened June 23, 2017, as has been the case at pre­vi­ous pub­lic meet­ings. Wool­wich of­fi­cials were joined by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from groups such the Red Cross, Water­loo Re­gional Po­lice and Men­non­ite Dis­as­ter Ser­vice for a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion fo­rum to in­form res­i­dents about the var­i­ous ser­vices pro­vided in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, as well as how to pre­pare for the worst.

“It’s more about how the res­i­dent can re­ally pre­pare them­selves and their fam­ily,” said Avril Tan­ner, Wool­wich’s com­mu­nity emer­gency man­age­ment co­or­di­na­tor. “There’s lots that a home­owner can do be­fore a flood even oc­curs, like pre­par­ing a fam­ily emer­gency kit. So things you might need for your fam­ily if you needed to evac­u­ate.”

The Grand River Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity has made changes to flood­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions af­ter the flood that took place last year.

“They’ve now cre­ated what’s called a flood zone,” ex­plained Tan­ner. “So the prop­er­ties that are in dif­fer­ent zones and that will go along with the no­ti­fi­ca­tion piece.”

The changes came in the wake of com­plaints the agency didn’t get the word out fast enough af­ter heavy rains in the north end of the river sys­tem in the early hours of June 23 swelled wa­ter­ways be­yond the ca­pac­ity of down­stream dams. The GRCA has also moved to up­date its map­ping of the sys­tem to bet­ter pre­dict flood­ing in­ci­dents.

In the event of a flood, how­ever, there are other agen­cies pre­pared to deal with the after­math, as noted among those with booths at this week’s in­for­ma­tion ses­sion.

For in­stance, Bruce Miano, a pub­lic safety inspector for the Re­gion of Water­loo, pointed out that res­i­dents can have their pri­vate well wa­ter tested for po­ten­tially harm­ful bac­te­ria at no charge.

“Un­like mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter, which is tested around the clock, for your own pri­vate well it’s good to test at least three times a year or af­ter an emer­gency like a flood,” said Miano.

He also rec­om­mended that no one even con­sider drink­ing or us­ing their well wa­ter af­ter a flood has oc­curred.

“If there are chem­i­cals as is of­ten the case with floods, the safest thing to do is to re­sort to bot­tled wa­ter un­til your test­ing re­sults come back,” he sug­gested.

An­other lit­tle known ser­vice is the non-profit Vic­tim Ser­vices of Water­loo Re­gion, which pro­vides emo­tional sup­port to any­one who needs it dur­ing and af­ter a crime or tragic cir­cum­stance. They also of­fer re­fer­rals to longer term ser­vices that help with what­ever the in­di­vid­ual needs.

“Usu­ally in a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, Red Cross is on the scene for the prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance, but we pro­vide the emo­tional and psy­choso­cial sup­port,” said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Bruce Mof­fatt. “For ex­am­ple, kids that may be up­set, or peo­ple that have lost their home, we talk them through and ask ‘Can we call any­body for you?’ ‘Here’s a place you can go’, ‘Here’s some next steps’, and we can call the in­sur­ance com­pany for them. In an im­me­di­ate cri­sis, peo­ple aren’t re­ally sure what to do next. They’re over­whelmed with what’s go­ing on. So we’re there to help them take a breath and see what the next steps are and help them come out with a plan, so they’re fo­cused on some­thing, too.”

“We try to get out to these events as much as we can be­cause it’s one of those ser­vices where un­til you need us, peo­ple don’t re­ally know who we are,” he added.

There are other fac­tors to con­sider in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion. Thor­ough pre­pared­ness be­fore­hand is cru­cial for pets in emer­gen­cies, ac­cord­ing to Tan­ner.

“You might want to think about hav­ing a plan ahead of time as well. So think­ing about if you had to leave the town that you live in, think of a shel­ter that’s out of town plus one that’s in town that you’re more fa­mil­iar with,” she said. “Have ar­range­ments pre-made, so you’ve thought ahead of time if you need to put them in a shel­ter. If we have to have a re­cep­tion cen­tre or some­thing like that, some­times pets aren’t al­lowed, so that’s re­ally hard on peo­ple. So hav­ing that process thought through ahead of time is an ex­cel­lent idea.”

In­for­ma­tional brochures were pro­vided at all booths. Any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing more can visit the Emer­gency Plan­ning and Pre­pared­ness sec­tion un­der the Wool­wich Town­ship web­site, www.wool­


Wool­wich Town­ship hosted an emer­gency pre­pared­ness open house June 23 in West Mon­trose. Among those man­ning in­for­ma­tion booths were Avril Tan­ner, the town­ship’s emer­gency man­age­ment co­or­di­na­tor, Bruce Miano at the pub­lic health booth, and Bruce Mof­fatt pro­mot­ing Vic­tim Ser­vices of Water­loo Re­gion.

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