Winter storm keeps crews busy

Take the time now to get prepared for the next winter storm

  • Nov. 19, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Wind and water kept Oak Bay fire and the public works departments stacked with calls Tuesday.

Calls for lines down and water issues came  in back-to-back for Oak Bay Fire.

“The morning to mid-afternoon was busier than evening,” said fire chief Dave Cockle. “We had multiple calls for power lines down, drains and water issues, storm-related stuff.”

Among the dozen calls over that time, the wind took out a window on King George Terrace where firefighters helped batten the hatches in the aftermath.

There were fewer calls though, than the heavy rains the weekend before when 15 or 16 calls came in by noon on Saturday, Nov. 14.

“That really taxed the resources, there were so many flooding calls. That was an anomaly too,” Cockle said, noting the tide remained high until about 10 a.m. Saturday. “Until then it starts backing up on the land, the system’s only designed to take so much water.”

Tuesday’s storm came with weather statements issued well ahead.

“We’ve been pretty busy … but we’re getting pretty good information from Environment Canada now,” Cockle said. The department shares that information through social media, the municipal website and the local emergency prep program.

“Our residents are aware the storm is coming,” he said.

At the fire hall, preparation begins with ensuring equipment is ready to roll, and as a storm wanes, restocking begins including packing more ‘fire line’ tape and double-checking the sump pumps.

“Once the storm settled down (Tuesday) the guys were making sure it was all ready to go for the next group of storms … restocking tools and screws and blocks of wood, pieces we need to set people up,” Cockle said.

“And working with public works and police and make sure between the three departments we’re ready for the next one.”

A few key steps can help residents prepare as the municipality does when a storm comes:

• secure garbage cans, lag furniture and other items that could cause damage in wind;

• clean out gutters and storm drains reducing possible flooding;

• stay at home as severe weather arrives;

• have flashlights and extra batteries, and an alternately powered radio in case of power failure;

• have food non-perishable food and one gallon of water per person;

• top off fuel tanks in vehicles;

• have cash on hand, in case bank machines are non-functional;

• expect downed trees and power lines and stay clear of them;

• have a communications plan with your family;

• have essential items on hand to last three days including non-perishable food, water, first aid kit and medication enough for the entire household.

“The biggest step for residents is for them to make sure, if the drain out front has leaves on it, just quickly give it a sweep off so the water can get into the catch basins,” Cockle said.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com