Storm Update - May 24
On Saturday after the storm like many, I was somewhat stuck to the immediate neighbourhood due to trees and wires but I did check in on a number of neighbours and with the Township.
Sunday was a bit better to get a bit further out to check on people and damage. I stopped to see some of our Volunteer Firefighters and met with Township staff.
Monday I was out in the Donwood area which seems to mostly have their hydro back on and is managing well. Again I stopped at the Donwood Fire Hall to check in and thank our Firefighters.
Clean up from Saturday's derecho is going to take some time and the damage to homes, farms, businesses and trees is wide-spread.
Here is an update of what I know and resources I can share.
First, on Sunday the Township declared a State of Emergency.
What does a State of Emergency mean?
Effectively it means that we have recognized that cleanup is going to cause a significant strain on municipal resources. By making this declaration we are able to get additional financial resources to help with the costs of cleanup. As well, it means that our service standards have been reduced (more on that later) as we work during this state.
As of today, the Township Office is open and all staff are reporting in to work. The office is running by generator and as per existing Covid protocols, the doors are locked to manage physical distancing but staff are available to meet. We've been having difficulties with our email and general communications over the weekend so please be patient if you reach out.
We are trying to get important messages out as best we can but as many of you have experienced, cell and internet service has been intermittent since the storm. All official notices will be posted to the Township website and the Township uses Twitter to get the word out.
Still having cell phone signal issues?
For reasons beyond my understanding, it seems that if you change your cellular network from LTE to 3G the connections are stronger and more stable. However from my personal experience it is slower than LTE but slow service is better than no service.
What is the status of clean-up efforts in Douro-Dummer?
I met with staff late Sunday afternoon and they informed me that all but a 16 Township roads were considered 'passable'. Those that are not passable are ones that our crews cannot fix as there are hydro lines across the road or in trees that are blocking the road.
'Passable' isn't ideal, it just means that there is one lane wide enough to allow emergency vehicles through. So obviously, more work will be underway to actually clear the roads.
It's going to take a while for our small crew so please be patient and be careful when out on the roads. While they're open and traversable, there are still a lot of areas where trees are precariously leaning on each other or on wires and poles. It's just not safe in many areas.
When will hydro be back on?
Many of you received status updates on Monday evening that the ETA is Wednesday at 11pm. As of this morning while I write this, my updated time was changed from Wednesday at 11pm to 'we'll get back to you - we're working on it' (more or less).
If you're not getting official updates from hydro you should be able to text STAT to 92887 to get updates in real time.
Please remember that you should stay 10m away from downed hydro lines. This is particularly important now more so than after the storm initially hit because lines that may have been dead immediately after the storm may become live as hydro works to fix the feeds. So please, just stay away. If you see a downed wire that has become live, report it right away by calling 911.
We are fortunate that we don't have extreme cold or hot weather to deal with during this outage but going 4 or more days without hydro is going to cause challenges for people without generators. If you or somebody you know needs assistance of any sort, please let me know. I'm hoping we can open up the Town Hall or Community Centre so people can drop in and get some reprieve.
Public Health Updates
On Sunday, Peterborough Public Health released some updates on how to stay safe while we continue on without hydro. You can read the full update here but I've included some highlights that are of particular relevance to Douro Dummer residents:
Household Recreational Water Safety
If you have a pool or hot tub, there could be increased challenges with pool/hot tub operation and safety if recirculation systems are not working. Contact a recreational water professional for more information about after-care once the power comes back on. During the power outage, avoid swimming in the pool to prevent waterborne illnesses due to insufficient pool water treatment. If the water is cloudy, do not swim as this can cause an increased risk for accidental drowning.
Residents on Wells and Septic Systems
Peterborough Public Health is committed to providing information in a format that meets your needs. To request information in an alternate format, please call us at 705-743-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many rural residents and some in urban areas obtain their water from a well and their property may be serviced by an onsite sewage system. Power outages can affect treatment units for both water and sewage systems as well as any pumps associated with those systems. Use bottled water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth and any other activities that involve the direct consumption of water. When the power is restored, verify that any filters and treatment devices have resumed normal operation and flush your plumbing system to remove any untreated water by running the water for several minutes through all plumbing fixtures. As a precaution, collect a water sample as soon as possible once the power has been restored.
If you do not have water due to a pump failure, find an alternate source of water, and continue to use an alternate source until you can sample your water once the power comes back on. Use bottled water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth and any other activities that involve the direct consumption of water.
If you are on a septic system, limit the amount of wastewater that you are generating. If your sewage cannot be pumped to the leaching bed, your tank may fill up and backup into the house or discharge to the ground. In the event you have a sewage backup into your home or you observe breakout of sewage onto your property, call a sewage hauler and immediately pump your septic tank.
If you live in a rural area, you may obtain your water from a well and your property may be serviced by an onsite sewage system.
- Avoid cooking indoors with equipment that expels carbon monoxide such as camp stoves and charcoal grills. These items should only be used outdoors and away from windows.
- Do not use gas stoves unless there is proper electric ventilation working as these stoves also emit carbon monoxide.
- Ensure smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices in your home have batteries to make sure they are working in the event of an emergency.
- Portable generators should only be used outdoors, in a well-ventilated area away from windows and fresh air intakes. Do not connect a generator to your electrical panel directly unless this has been previously set up by a qualified electrician.
What do I do with all my brush?
I'm hearing this from many residents and I've asked staff to see what they can do. Please check back for updates on this. If you have the ability to burn it that's great but I encourage you to buy an annual burn permit and phone in to activate it on the days that you are burning. A permit is $20 for the year and allows us to keep you informed better about burn bans and avoids a visit from the Fire Department if somebody reports it. You can get your permit online here.
What about my rubbish?
The storm broke a lot of patio furniture, tents and there's a lot of random debris. Again, I've asked staff to see what we can do to make it easy for people to dispose of this stuff. In the meantime, if there is any scrap metal you can take it to one of the many free scrap drop bins that are privately owned throughout the Township or Nurse Scrap Metal - Douro (Formerly Cranley's) is open - but their phone and internet is down. You can check their facebook for updates
How do I start working on repairs?
Staff did a quick inventory of damaged structures and estimate a minimum of 100 properties in Douro Dummer that are going to need Building and/or Demolition Permits. As noted, during a State of Emergency our service standards are lower so the regular 10 business days is not something that is reasonable. Having said that, we know that you are going to want to get things moving along as soon as your insurance companies give you the go-ahead. As a result, we are currently working on bringing in outside support from another municipality to help.
If you have access to a computer and internet service, you can submit your application for your permit on the Township website here.