Ice storm 2017: Roles need to be clarified in crisis, says AFMNB – New Brunswick

The Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick has compiled nearly two dozen recommendations in a report on the provincial response to the January ice storm that caused thousands of power outages and led to two deaths.

Executive director Frederick Dion said 22 recommendations were sent to the provincial clerk of the executive council and head of the public service, Judy Wagner, who will present a report  on the  ice storm disaster on July 31. 

“It’s not a report to blame anybody,” said Dion. “We don’t want to put the blame on the provincial government or the other stakeholders that were involved in the crisis.” 

NB Power estimates between 350 and 400 of its wooden poles were brought down in the ice storm. (CBC)

The ice storm that began in southern New Brunswick on Jan. 24 and spread to the northeast the following day led to 133,000 homes and businesses being without electricity at its peak. About 200,000 customers lost service at some point as a result of the storm.

There were two deaths and 45 people hospitalized as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, typically from the use of generators or barbecues in garages or homes.

Premier Brian Gallant ordered the high-level review of the response to the ice storm disaster. 

The AFMNB’s 28-page report instead offers suggestions on how to improve the management of emergency measures.

Surveys and feedback

Dion said the recommendations came from surveys conducted with the association’s members and other feedback. AFMNB represents 53 francophone and bilingual municipalities in New Brunswick,

Dion said they want what happened during the January ice storm used as a way to improve how local authorities, municipalities and the province respond to similar crises.

“We should try to improve the way we are organizing and the way we respond with emergency measures in that kind of event that will happen more often in the future,” he said. 

Dion said the role and responsibility of each stakeholder should be clarified.   

“In the non-incorporated areas, in the local service districts we need to make it clear who is responsible, who will help when an event like that happens.” 

Dion said even in the municipalities it wasn’t perfect but there were resources available and structure to bring help to the residents. 

“But in the (local service districts) some of the people were left there alone and they were left without any help,” he said. “That…

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