After Fiona, Three Rivers considers changes to emergency response

Former mayor says town's emergency plan needs to be updated with lessons learned from Fiona

Town’s Emergency Operations Committee developing recommendations for future storms

Ed MacAulay, former mayor of Three Rivers, says the town is reviewing its Fiona response to improve for future storms. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Just months before post-tropical storm Fiona hit Prince Edward Island, the town of Three Rivers finalized its first emergency preparedness plan. 

Now, given what it learned during the storm, it wants to make some changes. 

"There's definitely more co-ordination to be done by the province and their EMO committee and also ourselves as far as what we do locally and how we respond locally," former mayor Ed MacAulay told Island Morning's Laura Chapin. 

"What we want to do for Three Rivers is to look at every possibility and how we're going to be able to respond appropriately."

After the storm, members of the town's Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) met with fire chiefs and other officials to discuss improvements to make the next emergency response run smoother.

MacAulay was part of those discussions. He said one of the things they're looking at doing is expanding the network of volunteer emergency teams in each community. 

"I was thinking about this in retrospect, how will each of these little communities have dealt with Fiona if they were on their own?" he said.

Former Three Rivers mayor Ed MacAulay says they would like to engage more local volunteers who can open warming centres, even if roads are blocked. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

"We're going to need people locally to do things in those immediate hours during an event to check on people, so we're going to try to expand our network in the local communities."

MacAulay said the review is still in its early stages, but so far emergency management officials have identified some areas for improvement. One of the things they would like to see is increased accessibility of electricity and water outside warming centres.

"Especially in the early stages, those are usually the basic needs that people have — if they can keep their phones charged, know what's going on and get water," he said.

"Even if the warming centre is not open, if we could have an electrical outlet there that can be turned on for those periods of time, people can go and they can charge their phones and get water and so on."

MacAulay said conversations need to continue between the EOC and the new town council coming on board. He said he would also like to see more follow-up meetings between communities across the Island and provincial emergency management officials.   

"I think we're really going to expand that, because I think that's the only way P.E.I. is going to show its resiliency next time around," he said.

With files from Laura Chapin