Veer: Building character through 112 km/h adverse winds

Over the course of the year, I hope to address various issues the citizens of Red Deer raise with city council throughout our conversations in the community.

Adversity is known to build our character, but it also reveals our character; and events of the past week have proven that this adage is as true for communities as it is for individuals.

On June 20, at a few minutes before 7 p.m., 112 km/hour winds assaulted our city. By 7:15 p.m., the city had convened our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to centralize the city’s response in the aftermath of the windstorm, and by midnight a local State of Emergency had officially been declared.

In surveying the consequences of the storm on both our city’s natural and built environment, many speculated that the winds were “tornado-like”: Environment Canada later confirmed that it was not a tornado, but a “straight line wind” in a “band across the city,” an occurrence that is fairly common although not common in populated areas. Regardless of their form, however, 112 km/hour winds are indiscriminating in their consequences. Within a matter of minutes, approximately 35 per cent of the city was without power, thousands of trees were fully uprooted, their limbs snapping like twigs or their trunks breached beyond salvage, and homes, businesses, and vehicles were significantly damaged interrupting life as we otherwise knew it.

Miraculously, there was no reported loss of life as a result of falling trees, collapsed construction projects, live power lines scattered across private and public property, and traffic light outages throughout the city. Only one injury was officially reported to the Emergency Operations Centre (although other reports later surfaced in local media), and the individual was attended to and soon released from the hospital. For this, we are incredibly grateful.

Over the past few years, Red Deerians have demonstrated on many occasions that Red Deer is not just a city, but that we are a community. Within minutes of the windstorm: the Emergency Operations Centre mobilized full deployment of City staff to ensure the safety of all Red Deerians and to restore order to our city, neighbouring municipalities gave immediate support to help secure areas that presented public safety challenges, and stories began to emerge of Red Deerians assisting each other to find shelter, and of helping friends, neighbours and strangers in clearing tree debris and extending power across streets and fences that would otherwise divide and separate us from one another, with many spontaneous block parties emerging over chainsaws, generators, and propane grills.

As of last Saturday morning, all power was restored, enabling us to lift the State of Emergency later that night. The city does not yet have a full accounting of the storm and its consequences, but early estimates anticipate hundreds of thousands of dollars for response and recovery efforts. Full cleanup efforts are expected to continue into the fall.

The past week reminds us that the time to prepare for emergencies is well before an emergency occurs. Citizens are encouraged to ensure their personal emergency preparedness by having a 72-hour emergency preparation kit, details of which can be found at reddeer.ca

The city would also like to encourage citizens to sign up for “Notify Red Deer.” Over the course of the emergency, over 43,000 messages and calls were sent to Red Deerians on the system to ensure our citizens had all the information they needed to make decisions for their families during the emergency.

Above all, thank you to our citizens, city staff and partners in our region, province and country for your incredible response to the challenges we’ve been forced to contend with together. We are fortunate to live in a city that doesn’t just speak community life… we actually live it.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions until next month. As always, council thanks you for the ongoing opportunity to represent you. We look forward to seeing you all in the near future and hearing about what is important to citizens in our community.

Until next time…

Mayor Tara Veer

Just Posted

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

TORONTO — One of Canada’s high profile weather forecasters is warning Canadians… Continue reading

Nebraska set to vote today on fate of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — Five commissioners in Nebraska are set to vote today on… Continue reading

Hippie cult leader Charles Manson dead at 83

LOS ANGELES — Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the… Continue reading

Tie new affordable housing money to outcomes, former watchdog tells Liberals

OTTAWA — Parliament’s first budget watchdog is warning the federal government to… Continue reading

WATCH: Christmas Wish Breakfast toy donations almost double

All toys donated Sunday will be given to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau and Red Deer Salvation Army

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

CP Holiday train to stop in Ponoka for another year

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month