P.E.I. communities prepared for emergencies: MacDougall

Municipalities federation president says plans in place for events like post tropical storm Arthur

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 10, 2014

Waves continued to pound this boat against the dock.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

The president of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities says Island communities are prepared to deal with emergencies.

Bruce MacDougall says municipalities do have plans in place to deal with weather events such as Arthur, the post-tropical storm that hit the Island last weekend.

A tourism operator on the north shore and more than one tenter complained that the province’s Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) didn’t open shelters on Saturday for tenters, many of whom sought shelter in their vehicles or at Charlottetown hotels.

“Many of them do have plans in place,’’ MacDougall said, “but it starts with the individual, whether that’s a campground or another business. Everybody should be prepared for some kind of emergency.’’

He said if a situation escalates to the point where individuals, such as campgrounds, can’t handle it they reach out to municipalities, as is normal procedure set out by the province’s EMO.

“Once it gets beyond their scope then, yes, they probably would reach out to the municipality and the municipality has a plan in place that would go into action.’’

If the municipality feels its beyond its ability to respond, they would contact EMO.

Tourism Minister Robert Henderson said Tuesday that safety information was distributed from the Office of Public Safety to all campgrounds so it could be shared with guests. Refunds were also available at provincially-owned campgrounds. Campers would also have been directed to visitor information centres where staff would have helped them with finding fixed-roof accommodations.

Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward, Opposition critic for tourism, says he doesn’t agree with leaving the responsibility to individuals.

“I could not imagine being in a trailer, let alone a tent (during Arthur),’’ Aylward said.

The Opposition critic says public service announcements, such as one carrying an emergency number could have been displayed for tourists coming over on the Confederation Bridge.

“There’s an electronic message board as you come across the Confederation Bridge where they would have had an opportunity to flash a message to travellers warning them of (the impending storm). At least advise them of an emergency telephone number or a website to visit.’’

Aylward says the province needs to do a better job in these circumstances communicating this type of information to tourists.

The Canadian Red Cross does have a number that accepts emergency calls 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-9597. The service is designed to link people up with volunteers in that province and is available in English and French.