Mayor, NS Power COO tour storm-impacted areas of Cumberland
Cumberland County’s mayor is urging Nova Scotia Power to make someone available locally to work with Cumberland REMO the next time there’s a major storm that impacts the power grid.
Murray Scott and Cumberland County CAO Greg Herrett met with Nova Scotia Power’s chief operating officer David Pickles on Wednesday in Pugwash and Wallace.
“Communication is so important during and after an event like this and it’s something that was a challenge with this event,” the mayor said. “It’s important to have a face at the table from Nova Scotia Power, someone on the ground in Cumberland County who can see firsthand the damage and someone who we can talk to directly.”
During the storm, the municipality opened its Cumberland REMO operations centre at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal Building to coordinate its response, including communicating with the provincial coordination centre, provincial departments and emergency service providers.
The mayor said it’s vital to have someone from the power corporation at the table locally.
“If you have someone directly beside you who can make the calls and determine what’s happening on the ground and get assistance,” Scott said. “There are opportunities to learn from this and I think Nova Scotia Power understands that.”
The mayor said he was impressed with Pickles for coming to Cumberland County to see for himself the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona on Sept. 23 and 24. Scott is grateful to the crews from Nova Scotia Power as well as power crews from across eastern Canada and the United States for coming to the province and the county to retore power to people whose homes and businesses have been in the dark since the storm rolled through overnight on the 23rd.
The mayor said, “I’m very happy with the willingness of Mr. Pickles to take what he learned here and see if he can improve on things. We can all do better next time and I think he understands that.”
Cumberland County is just one of several Nova Scotia counties cleaning up the damage caused by the storm and the Nova Scotia government announced a 14-day state of emergency on Wednesday in the northern part of the province and Cape Breton.
The mayor is applauding people across the county for their resolve in dealing with the damage and the continued power outages, especially those in areas of the municipality still without power in the Wallace and Malagash areas along the Northumberland Strait as well as scattered outages in Wentworth, Westchester and Pugwash.
“It’s just heartwarming to see how people came together,” the mayor said. “These people were dealing with the power being off at their own places, but they selflessly came forward to help others in their time of need. It says a lot about them and their commitment to serving their communities.”
Scott said there were a number of challenges evident during the storm. Fire departments had a difficult time communicating when cell towers and telephone service went down because of the power outages. It resulted in REMO implementing the use of a TMR mutual aid channel to communicate with emergency services should a resident come to a fire department in need of emergency help.
“The fire departments went above and beyond throughout this whole period,” the mayor said. “They really stepped up their game and were there for their communities when needed with comfort centres and providing places for people to come to charge their cellphones or grab a coffee.”
Pickles welcomed the opportunity to thank those working in the area to support restoration efforts.
“It was also about looking for opportunities to work more collaboratively with municipalities during storms of this magnitude moving forward,” Pickles said.