WIND STORM - The City of Red Deer’s wind storm left 15,000 properties without power for varying lengths of time. File photo

WIND STORM - The City of Red Deer’s wind storm left 15,000 properties without power for varying lengths of time. File photo

Red Deer’s wind storm costs exceed $2.6 million

City council discusses impact of June storm

To date the City of Red Deer has incurred $2.6 million in costs following the devastating wind storm that struck Red Deer in June.

City council heard the details during their Oct. 2nd meeting.

“As you know the wind storm that occurred on June 20th was a rather unprecedented event. It began at about 6:45pm and involved sustained winds of over 100 kilometers an hour for up to an hour,” said Karen Mann of Emergency Management for the City of Red Deer.

She said from a wind perspective from Environment Canada it has been termed as a straight lined wind event, with similar impacts to that of a tornado.

“Wind was clocked up to 111 kilometers per hour which is not unsubstantial,” she said.

Although some recovery-related costs, such as stump removal, have yet to be incurred, to date more than $2.6 million has been spent on response and recovery activities, with still some outstanding costs at this time.

According to officials the City quickly mobilized, responding to the large number of downed trees and power lines, as well as their impacts that occurred.

“The Emergency Operations Centre was activated quickly and staff were in place within 25 minutes of activation being called by the City Manager, so that’s a pretty impressive response time,” said Mann.

Crews from Electric Light and Power, Public Works, Emergency Services and the RCMP worked around the clock, responding quickly to the event according to officials.

“They took on roles in what we are terming borderless response,” said Mann.

They were able to work together, combining resources and responding in a manner that kept residents safe.

“With the power outage, initially up to 15,000 of our residential properties were without power, so that’s 40 per cent or so.”

She said they had varying degrees of power loss, with some residents having their power restored quickly, while other areas of the community were without power for over 70 hours.

“Our Electric Light and Power crews worked with contractors and their partners in electrical utility to be able to stage quite an impressive response. They had 30 power poles that were requiring replacement or repair and over 3,500 meters of downed power lines.”

The Electric Light and Power crews worked 24 hours a day with their contractors and partners in order to get that power restored as quickly as possible.

From a parks perspective, Mann said, it’s hard to say how many trees were damaged.

“We do know that there are 600 stumps that the City is looking to have removed, so those are trees that are in the high visibility areas.”

She said they could have had as many as 5,000 trees damaged or impacted by the storm throughout their park system.

“So far the Insurance Bureau of Canada has indicated that there were over $30 million in claims from the residential, commercial insurance side. This type of event is primarily insurable from a residential perspective, so our residents were going and seeking insurance claims from their private insurers.”

From a 9-1-1 perspective, Mann said the call volume experienced in the 9-1-1 centre was 12 times what is normal.

Julia Harvey-Shemko, director of communications and strategic planning with the City, talked about communications during the event. She said the City saw lots of positive responses on their social media page, with lots of people sharing, commenting and reacting.

“Our highest reach on Facebook for any one post was 109,000 people, so that’s the potential people that we could reach through that post. It doesn’t mean that everybody read that but that’s the biggest reach we’ve ever had with any post we’ve ever done,” said Shemko.

The City’s first social media post on June 20th reached approximately 67,172 people.

She said this was the first emergency event where they used Notify Red Deer

“Through the white pages we have over 39,000 contacts with them there.”

The City is committed to learning from emergency events when they occur. In the days and weeks since June 20th, departments conducted Post Incident Assessments and debriefings to identify areas of strength as well as challenges.