Oxford Not Prepared for Hurricane Dorian
The recent power outages associated with Hurricane Dorian have revealed how unprepared our communities are for times of emergency.
Oxford Town Council noted great confusion about who could offer comfort during a prolonged blackout. The Oxford Lions Club was the town’s official comfort station, selected partly because it is located in an area not as prone to flooding as elsewhere in the community. Of course, the Lions Club is now permanently closed thanks to the on-going threat of the sinkhole on its Parkland property.
Hurricane Dorian demonstrated the need but the extended power interruption tied the hands of churches and other facilities that could not provide comfort services.
It was an echo of the conversation a day earlier at the Pugwash Village Commission. While the Legion and the Firehall are commonly expected to provide emergency services, neither could offer comfort during Dorian’s outage.
The Emergency Measures Coordinator for Cumberland County (EMO) admitted that much could be learned from the recent experience. Mike Johnson says he hopes to get together with area fire departments to plan for what most believe is the next big storm. Most agree that comfort stations must have emergency generators sufficient to provide heat, light, recharging facilities, hot drinks and basic food.
The situation in Oxford is made worse by low lying areas that are prone to flooding. Wade Adshade says the town needs to consider two locations, one on either side of the river as there are times when people can be stranded on one side or the other.
Dawn Thompson noted the recent hurricane isolated parts of the town with washouts on Kolbec and Roslin Roads, along with flooded streets in the downtown core.
Acting Mayor Rick Draper says flooding is a serious concern and that people could be trapped in the business area on Main Street. However, Rachel Jones, the town’s Chief Administrative Officer, suggested the warning system should motivate people to get out of troubled areas before they are sealed off by floodwaters.
Jones is going to gather information and bring recommendations to council in November.
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