Your Irene Questions Answered
Post Tropical Storm Irene
August 28, 2011
- Possible Impact in Nova Scotia
- Preparing for Hurricane Irene
- Tourism, Parks and Beaches
- Power Outages
- Storm Surges
- State of Emergency
Possible Impact in Nova Scotia
- How will Irene affect Nova Scotia?
Based on weather patterns and computer models, Irene is expected to affect weather in Nova Scotia Sunday overnight into Monday.
Late Sunday evening Irene was downgraded to post tropical by Environment Canada. Tropical storm and winds warnings, however are still in place.
While the track of the storm is projected to pass west of Nova Scotia, the storm is very large, and could still bring high winds, heavy rain, and even storm surges adn localized flooding to Nova Scotia overnight on Sunday.
The highest winds are expected in Western Nova Scotia and higher elevations, where hurricane force gusts are possible.
Storm surge is possible along the South West shore and Head of the Bay of Fundy.
For more information, visit Environment Canada website at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca
Preparing for Irene
- How do I prepare for the effects of Irene?
- Monitor weather reports and watch for public safety information.
- Have an emergency plan and an emergency kit including items such as a crank or battery powered radio and flashlight, water and extra food, prescription medications, infant formula, copies of important documents in case you need to leave fast, extra keys for car and home, cash. A complete list of suggested items for your emergency kit can be found in the Storm Centre.
- Individuals and families should be prepared to take care of themselves for up to 72 hours so that first responders can help those in greatest need.
- Ensure your car is filled with gas, have propane for the BBQ or camp stove, and some cash on hand.
- Secure propane tanks outdoors using bungee cords or ropes.
- Secure objects that could become projectiles in high winds.
- Park your car away from trees.
- Keep your pets indoors.
- Do not go to coastal areas to watch the storm.
- Call 911 in an emergency situation.
- Sign up for Twitter alerts
Visit the Severe Storm Centre: www.gov.ns.ca/emo
- If a Tropical Storm Watch or Warning is issued, what should I do?
- Tropical storm warnings are in place for much of Nova Scotia.
- Make sure your emergency kit is close at hand, in a portable container such as a duffel bag or backpack.
- Monitor local radio and television stations, and this website, for updates from authorities.
- Fill your bathtub(s) with water for flushing, washing and cleaning.
- Secure all gates, doors and windows.
- Move lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything that can be picked up by wind.
- Trim dead or diseased branches from trees to help make them more wind resistant, or remove dead trees entirely. When trimming trees, ensure that you are not working near a power line.
- Park your vehicles in a garage or away from trees.
- Secure pleasure boats and other water craft, or remove them from the water if practical.
- Keep pets indoors.
- If you live in coastal or flood prone areas, watch for safety and weather warnings about storm surges. Consider measures such as sand bagging, and move personal belongings from basement storage.
- Do not go to coastal areas to watch the storm.
- If the eye of the hurricane passes near where you live, there will be a lull in the wind lasting from two or three minutes to half an hour. Stay in a safe place. Make emergency repairs only, and remember that once the eye has passed, the winds will return from the opposite direction with possibly even greater force.
- How is the province preparing for Irene?
All three levels of government and partner organizations, including utilities, are working collaboratively to ensure the safety of Nova Scotians.
Currently, the Emergency Management Office is getting regular updates from Environment Canada. All three levels of government are working together to plan and prepare. Government departments are positioned to implement emergency plans. Travelers and visitor are being warned of the potential for severe weather through Visitor Information and parks. A decision on whether camping and parks will be remain open will be made and communicated Saturday or Sunday.
- If I'm in an area where a Tropical Storm Watch or Hurricane Warning is issued, what should I do in terms of road travel?
It's best to avoid driving during a storm. If you have to be on the road, slow down and be aware of flooding and debris like downed power lines and tree branches. Check in advance for road closures by calling 511 or visiting www.gov.ns.ca/tran .
- How is the Department of Health and Wellness preparing for the effects of Irene?
The Department of Health and Wellness is in regular contact with the district health authorities, the IWK Health Centre and EHS to prepare for Hurricane Irene. They have plans in place to deal with severe weather and emergency situations.
People should call 911 if they have a health emergency or they can talk with a registered nurse by calling 811 if they have health-related concerns or questions.
People who need emergency services should visit their local Emergency Department. To check to see if their local Emergency Department is open, they can call 811, their local hospital or check the website of their local district health authority. In the case of an emergency situation, they are reminded to call 911.
EHS paramedics and the EHS system are prepared to respond and extra resources are available if required throughout the province.
Tourism, Parks and Beaches
- Will it be safe for me to swim at beaches, or be at parks during Irene?
Provincial parks and beaches on mainland Nova Scotia are now closed.
Wind and rain storms can generate massive waves, storm surges, and coastal currents that make the coastline a place to be avoided. During a hurricane, tropical storm or any major storm, EMO strongly advises Nova Scotians to stay out of the water and aware from all coastal areas.
For more information on beaches and provincial parks, visit www.novascotiaparks.ca .
- I was planning on visiting Nova Scotia this weekend. Should I cancel my plans?
Visitors are urged to closely watch the local weather and listen for public safety warnings. Start to consider how this could affect your travel or outdoor plans and consider making alternative arrangements is severe weather is forecast.
Tourists can visit the provincial tourism website at www.novascotia.com .
People travelling by air are advised to contact their airlines for up-to-date information and flight schedule changes. The Halifax Stanfield International Airport posts advisories at flyhalifax.com .
- How do I prepare for possible flooding?
The Emergency Management Office reminds Nova Scotians that flooding can occur at any time after heavy rainfalls. Hurricane Irene could create such heavy rainfalls.
Nova Scotians should prepare for potential flooding by ensuring that gutters and basement drains are cleared, and that ditches that drain water from around houses can flow freely.
People should move furniture and personal property away from possible flood areas. In some cases it may be possible to pile sandbags along building near shorelines or on known flood plains.
- What do I do if there is a flood?
- Listen to the radio. Local authorities will issue instructions for those living in the affected areas.
- Know how to turn off your water, gas and electricity in case instructed to by local officials. If the main power box is not in a dry, safe area, do not try to turn off the electricity. Contact Nova Scotia Power at 428-6004 or 1-877-428-6004 for instructions. Also check www.nspower.ca .
- Do not use well water for drinking, cooking or bathing until the water has been tested and declared safe to use.
- If drinking water is contaminated, purify it by boiling. Contact local environment offices at 1-877-936-8476 (1 877 9ENVIRO) with questions about safe drinking water.
- What precautionary steps should I take after a flood?
- Listen to the radio for instructions. Local municipal offices will let people know when it is safe to return home.
- Do not attempt to cross flooded roads. As little as six inches of rapidly moving water can knock people off their feet.
- Do not reconnect gas or electrical equipment. Arrange for qualified personnel to inspect and connect these services.
- If you smell gas, leave the area and contact the gas company immediately. Check carefully for signs of damage, broken glass and other debris.
- Snakes, rodents and other small animals may have been forced into homes by floodwaters. Check and contact a local municipal office for assistance, if needed.
- What do I do in the event of a power outage?
Beware of dangers in buildings serviced only by electric-powered smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, which will not work during outages.
The provincial fire marshal also offers the following safety tips:
- Be sure battery-powered detectors and alarms have fresh batteries and are in good working condition.
- Candles are not recommended, but if you must use them, make sure they are properly supported. Use a non-combustible container that is larger than the candle. Keep materials at least half a metre (two feet) away from candles. Extinguish all candles before leaving a room.
- Put the correct fuel in portable appliances such as Coleman stoves or oil lamps. Substituting fuels is extremely dangerous. Propane and liquid camp stoves are for outdoor use only.
- Space heaters create carbon monoxide. Ensure they are used in rooms with good ventilation and placed on a flat hard surface to prevent tipping. Do not leave the units unattended. If using a portable, unvented kerosene heater, it is vital to open a window at least one inch or keep a door ajar to another room to provide safe ventilation, especially if the room is less than 150 sq. feet.
- Generators should be operated in well ventilated locations outdoors, away from doors, windows and vent openings. They should be placed so that exhaust fumes cannot enter the home through windows, doors or other building openings. Generators must be certified and connected to the electrical system of a house by a construction electrician. They should be used to power equipment such as lights, portable electric heaters and water pump and other equipment that may by connected directly by plug to the generator.
- Do not attempt to run extension cords from a house that has electrical power to one that does not. This can place both houses in danger of an electrical fire and is dangerous to repair crews.
- Check stoves and other heating equipment to make sure that they are turned off. When electrical power is restored, a stove or other heating device can cause a fire if it is not attended.
- In an emergency call 911.
- Who do I contact for more information related to power outages?
- For more information on power outages in specific neighbourhoods, call 1-877-428-6004. Remember that many people may be calling this number. Do not hang up – calls are taken in the order they are received.
- You can also visit the Nova Scotia Power website at: http://www.nspower.ca/
- Is my food safe after a power outage?
- Perishable food that has reached room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
- Any food in a deep freeze that is fully stocked is good for about two days from the time of power failure.
- Any food in a half-filled deep freeze is safe to eat for one day from the time of power failure.
- Food retail outlets are advised to keep food below 4 degrees Celsius. Any perishable food left above this temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
The Department of Agriculture advises that foods most often associated with food-borne illness include: raw or cooked meat, poultry, seafood and luncheon meats; casseroles, stews or soups; milk or soft cheese; homemade mayonnaise or dressings; cooked pasta, potatoes or rice, salads made with any of these foods.
For more information on food safety, visit: www.gov.ns.ca/agri/foodsafety/factsht or call 902-424-1173.
- What is a storm surge?
A storm surge is an abnormal rise in water levels along the coast and is particularly dangerous when an intense storm arrives at the same time as high tide. They often accompany intense winter storms, hurricanes or high winds. They can create tremendous damage.
- Who is at risk of storm surges?
There are many coastal communities in Nova Scotia that could be affected by storm surges and coastal flooding. Getting caught near the shoreline during a storm surge could be life-threatening. It is important that people take measures to protect themselves and their property.
- How do I prepare for a storm surge?
- As with other severe storm threats, pack an emergency supply kit that includes food, a supply of drinkable water, clothing, blankets, medication, flashlight and a first aid kit. Include any important documents and a list of your property and personal items. A complete list of suggested items for your emergency kit can be found at: http://emo.gov.ns.ca/content/prepare-kit .
- Include battery-operated or crank radio in emergency kits to check for weather warnings in the event a storm surge is forecast. Listen for warnings.
- Develop a family plan. Agree on a location to meet if separated during an emergency and make sure to know emergency plans for schools, offices, daycare and other places where family members spend time.
- If a region is prone to flooding, check basements for important or valuable items and move them to a higher level in the home.
- Know how to turn off water, gas and electricity in case instructed to do so by local officials.
- What do I do if I've been ordered to evacuate because of a storm surge?
- Have an evacuation plan. Make sure family members know what to do in the event of an evacuation.
- When ordered to go, leave immediately and take an emergency supply kit with you.
- Listen to the radio and follow instructions from local emergency official.
- Follow the evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts. A shortcut could lead to a restricted or dangerous area.
State of Emergency
- What does a state of emergency mean?
A state of emergency may mean that people will be evacuated from a certain area if there is a real or potential threat to lives.
The reason for declaring a state of emergency is to protect lives and property during a major disaster.
During a state of emergency people may be asked to stay off the roads to allow for easier movement of emergency vehicles. Beaches may be closed to protect people from dangerous surf conditions during a hurricane.
- Who declares a state of emergency?
For a general or provincial state of emergency, EMO would first consult municipalities and other experts, such as the Canadian Hurricane Centre, to gather information on the likelihood of an emergency. EMO would then advise the Minister on whether a state of emergency should be declared. If agreed, the Minister would sign a state of emergency form that indicates the specific areas of the province where the state of emergency exists. A state of emergency declared by the Minister terminates automatically after 14 days, or sooner if the Minister so decides. It can also be renewed by the Minister with the approval of the Executive Council.
A municipality can also declare a state of local emergency. Again, if a Mayor or municipal council is satisfied that an emergency exists or could exist, the Mayor or council would sign a form specifying the specific area of the municipality where the state of emergency applies. The Minister of Justice, who is responsible for EMO, must be advised that a local state of emergency has been declared. A state of local emergency terminates automatically after 7 days, or earlier if so desired by the municipality or the minister. Any renewal of a local state of emergency must be approved by the minister.
In both cases, the public will be advised of the state of emergency.
- What will happen if an evacuation is needed? Who will order it?
If an evacuation is needed, the local police will order it.
- Would an evacuation be mandatory?
The evacuation order would be mandatory, and people would have to leave any area being evacuated.
- What do I do if I or a member of my family becomes ill during the storm?
Those experiencing health-related illness symptoms should call HealthLink 811 with questions. In an emergency situation, call 911.
How are Hurricanes classified?
Hurricanes are classified using a five-point rating scale which describes their present intensity. The scale is used to estimate the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.
- Category One Hurricane (Sustained winds 119-153 km/hr)
Very dangerous winds; will produce some damage
- Category Two Hurricane (Sustained winds 154-177 km/hr)
Extremely dangerous winds; will cause extensive damage
- Category Three Hurricane (Sustained winds 178-209 km/hr)
Devastating damage will occur
- Category Four Hurricane (Sustained winds 210-249 km/hr)
Catastrophic damage will occur
- Category Five Hurricane (Sustained winds greater than 249 km/hr)
Catastrophic damage will occur