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Volunteer group hoping services won't be needed after Hurricane Lee

Joanna Morrison of Charlottetown Mutual Aid says Islanders should already know where to go to seek shelter from Hurricane Lee. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
Joanna Morrison of Charlottetown Mutual Aid says Islanders should already know where to go to seek shelter from Hurricane Lee. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

As Hurricane Lee moves toward Atlantic Canada, some people on P.E.I. are questioning whether the province is any better prepared to handle natural disasters than when Fiona hit the Island almost a year ago.

In some cases, it took days after the post-tropical storm made its landfall for comfort centres to open and vulnerable people to be checked on.

A report examining the response to Fiona still hasn't been released. But Charlottetown Mutual Aid, a volunteer group that stepped up to help then, is hoping the province learned from that experience.

"We should already know where to go," said Joanna Morrison, who co-founded the group. "If there's no power, if there's no cell service, we should already know where the warming shelters are going to be."

Charlottetown Mutual Aid worked to fill gaps left by government after Fiona, dropping off food and visiting vulnerable people.

We walked into some apartments that had some situations that were not things that we were prepared for. — Joanna Morrison

But Morrison said the government needs to step up whenever the next big storm arrives.

"We walked into some apartments that had some situations that were not things that we were prepared for," they said.

"It still boggles my mind that it was up to us to do that and that the provincial government didn't even try to help us."

Charlottetown Mutual Aid has been at a few locations like the Murphy Community Centre, but are hoping to find a new space for the next three weeks.
Charlottetown Mutual Aid has been at a few locations like the Murphy Community Centre, but are hoping to find a new space for the next three weeks.

Charlottetown Mutual Aid worked to fill gaps left by government after Fiona, including getting essential goods in the hands of people who needed them. (Mikee Mutuc/CBC)

One thing the group would like to see is for the province to make emergency supplies available to Islanders who can't afford them.

But Nick Policelli, the new director of the province's Emergency Measures Organization, said it's not that easy.

"Obviously we want to make sure that people are prepared in any way possible," he said.

"It is tough to get a certain kit to a certain person depending on the needs of every Islander."

Preparations underway

Charlottetown fire chief Tim Mamye said first responders have been lessons learned from Fiona in preparation for this hurricane season.

"We've had some initial training sessions with [the EMO]," he said "We've also had some training with our elected officials as well, so they are more aware of what's going on and just preparing behind the scenes.

Charlottetown Fire Chief Tim Mamye
Charlottetown Fire Chief Tim Mamye

Charlottetown Fire Chief Tim Mamye says first responders have been implementing lessons learned from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

"Once again, every department making sure that they're fuelled up, checking our generators, making sure vehicles are equipped and working properly."

One issue after Fiona was that the province's main source of fuel at the Irving Oil tank farm had no power.

Officials said the province and Irving have agreed a generator is necessary, but it doesn't have to be permanent.

"We want to work with [Irving] to make sure that we have a power source to be able to get the fuel to the gas stations," Policelli said. "To make sure that people have access to fuel to be able to power generators, or whatever it is."