The stories are flooding in! Tell us how Post-Tropical Storm Arthur affected you

Arthur

Do you remember post-tropical storm Arthur? The July 2014 extreme weather event left 195,000 households without power for as much as a few days to two weeks because winds of 100 km/hour and heavy rain knocked down trees and power lines.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) is conducting research to learn more about how communities cope with extreme weather events. In this case, we are studying the capacity of communities to respond to extreme weather events like post-tropical storm Arthur.

The stories we’ve received so far highlight the emotional attachment people have to the trees they lost, as well as their creativity and perseverance in making do without power, and for rural residents, water.

SHARE: Your Experiences and Memories of Arthur with the Conservation Council.

Michelle from Johnville, New Brunswick, a small rural community just north of Florenceville-Bristol was without power and a landline for seven days. She made a small outdoor stove/oven from items found around her home. “An old empty belly of a wringer washing machine combined with the bottom of an old broken woodstove allowed me to survive the ordeal without too much dismay”. As a result, Michelle cooked a locally raised leg of lamb from her freezer. She was able to collect water from a small brook running through her property to boil for washing dishes and to do laundry. Michelle still made a trip into town for drinking water, having concerns about drinking from the brook.

Arthur

Photo Credit: CTV Atlantic News

Urban residents experienced the storm differently. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, residents of Fredericton, and those from surrounding areas, who came to the city looking for food and provisions were met with increasingly empty shelves at Walmart, Sobeys, and the Atlantic Superstore. While restoring power in Fredericton was a priority for NB Power, many residents in the heart of the city were still without power for more than a week. Brad, from Fredericton, noted that communications from NB Power was a frustrating affair. Without power for nine days, he told us that “NB Power revised and revised (upward) the estimated time for restoring electricity incrementally, so we stayed in our home rather than seek alternative housing. It was frustrating to be told nearly every day that power would be restored tomorrow. Eight tomorrow’s came and went.”

As a result of the experience, Brad is now considering installing solar panels and a storage system, but he says this would be an easier thing to accomplish if the Government of New Brunswick offered rebates or fair reverse metering for power sold back to the grid. The idea of government incentives to assist people with the financing and installation of solar panels has been mentioned frequently by respondents from both rural and urban New Brunswick.

Historic Trees Lost to Arthur

Photo Credit: Lois Corbett, Conservation Council of New Brunswick

The loss of land lines and cellular towers is one of the most frequent issues emerging from the stories being sent to us.  A resident of Island View, a community located about half way between Fredericton and Kingsclear, noted that the communications black out in their area lasted five days making it impossible in the immediate aftermath of the storm for Local Service District (LSD) officials to organize relief efforts. When relief measures began rolling out, the lack of available communication lines made it difficult to get the word out. “The LSD Fire Department started to distribute bottled water on day three but only from the fire hall which was not a convenient location for most residents. EMO set up a warming station a day later but it was not widely known that it was in place.” Communications, or the lack thereof, is noted in nearly every submission we have received to date.

Another respondent, Jim, a resident of Upper Kingsclear, said that he didn’t feel that there was a comprehensive plan in place by EMO, NB Power, or the provincial government to provide daily situational updates, or to check on people – especially seniors. He recognizes fully that the power of the storm caught everyone off guard, but it opened his eyes to the need for adaptation.

WATCH: ““Arthur really caught people’s attention,” Dr. Louise Comeau

Post-tropical storm Arthur shows us that the services and public safety agencies we depend on are at risk in an extreme weather event. We need to improve communications, including having more battery operated radios in our homes and businesses. Citizens also need to help by keeping more food and water on hand and being more cautious around fallen trees and power lines.

Together we can prepare for the impacts of human-caused climate change that no longer can be avoided. We also need to drastically lower the pollution changing the climate to stop the problem from getting much worse. The Conservation Council has just released its Climate Action Plan for New Brunswick offering policy options that include government incentives to help people install renewable energy sources in their homes, among other policy options. Your stories are telling us that we are on the right track in calling on government to act boldly to address climate change.

We encourage you to continue sharing your stories with us on our website.