Nova Scotia

West Hants holds public session to help residents prepare for next emergency

West Hants Regional Municipality brought emergency management organizations together for an educational session as residents worry about what they’ll do if there’s another extreme weather event in the region.

Representatives from the local search and rescue team, fire department and emergency management office were on hand Sunday at the Southwest Hants fire department in Vaughan, N.S., to answer questions. 

Nova Scotia experienced record wildfires last May before historic flooding took the lives of four people in the West Hants area in July.

“I am very concerned about emergency preparedness planning,” said Lucy Landry, who lives in the area.

“What do we do if something goes wrong? I live in a community that has one road in, one road out, so it’s a big concern for us.”

Landry said she came to see what she should keep in an emergency preparedness kit in case she’s forced from her home due to floods or wildfire.

The first 20 families to arrive at the fire hall Sunday received a kit from the municipality.

The kit includes a blanket, candle, whistle, flashlight, some first aid items, and an external thumb drive for personal information.There is also information on other items to add.

“We often hear about 72-hour preparedness,” said Shelleena Thornton, emergency management co-ordinator for West Hants. “First responders and everybody’s dealing with the initial emergency at hand, so it’s helpful if the community and residents can be self-sufficient … as much as possible.”

More extreme weather expected

Emergency responders at the session said climate change means extreme weather events like what Nova Scotia went through last year are likely to become more common.

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“I’ve got almost 30 years in the fire service,” said Jeff Pinch, deputy chief of the Southwest Hants fire department. “I’ve never seen anything like [last year].”

Pinch said the floods especially affected his area last year with the death of three children and one man. The department is also trying to learn how to best be prepared for these emergencies.

“It’s just changing [what] we need to adapt to, and the community needs to understand and be prepared and adapt,” Pinch said. 

The municipality will host another session for residents in Summerville on Sept. 22 at the Summerville fire hall.

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