We are very privileged in Richmond Hill. We have just been tested by a major ice storm and for the most part, we rallied, endured, survived, and continue to be well-served. These truly are your municipal tax dollars at work. Our well-trained emergency response team coordinated their efforts with our electrical services– no one died and there were no injuries to report. Within hours in some cases, days in others, heat and hydro were restored to thousands of people in Richmond Hill. I am most grateful to all our dedicated Town staff and Emergency Service workers who provided round-the-clock service. They kept roads cleared, communication lines open, managed warming shelters, and assisted our residents in need. Our electrical supplier, Powerstream, brought in hydro workers from Cornwall, Niagara, Sudbury, Ottawa, and neighbouring municipalities to help. The Town’s emergency responders were tested and have proven our commitment to the health and safety of our residents first.
The 2013 Ice Storm has been called a 40 – 50 year weather event. The last time I remember a significant ice storm in Richmond Hill was December 26, 1971. Which means that years from now, we all will be asking, “Where were you during the 2014 Ice Storm?” My husband and I were at home alone without heat or hydro for three and a half days. We believe that we earned our winter camping badge!
There is still much more work for the Town to do. Our staff are assessing the damage with a view to applying for disaster funding from the Province. We may not pass the qualification threshold for relief funding but we need the damages assessment as we continue to rebuild and restore. There will likely be an impact on our Town budget. York Region Council has asked for relief funds or a similar funding program to be considered.
What have I learned? Shelter is vital. Water is vital. Two-way communication is very important especially if you have health concerns. Transportation is extremely important. Flashlights, radios, and batteries are very important. Candles can be dangerous. Restaurants that stay open are very important. Cash-on-hand is important. Be patient. Communication is the key to keeping people calm. Communication is challenging when managing any crisis.
Municipal government delivers!.