Karen Mann, the City of Red Deer’s emergency management co-ordinator. (By LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer’s emergency management team is watching to learn how Newfoundland handles its massive snowfall

“We’ve had extreme snowfalls before,” says co-ordinator Karen Mann — and will again

Red Deer’s emergency preparedness staff are keeping a close eye on efforts to dig Newfoundland out of its biggest-ever snowfall.

“We’ve had extreme snowfalls before,” noted Karen Mann the city’s emergency management co-ordinator — although nothing close to the 76 cms of snow recorded at St. John’s International Airport last week.

Still, Mann noted the Red Deer-area has had oddball weather — including a big dump of snow in November 2013, when the city received 55.4 cms of precipitation, compared to the 16.9 cm average for the month.

More recently, a 2017 windstorm topped thousands of trees. And widespread flooding happened across the province in 2013 when high spring rainfall combined with rapid warming and mountain snowmelt.

Tragically, the Pine Lake tornado caused 12 deaths in 2000, while wildfires have regularly blanketed central Alberta in smoke seemingly nearly every summer of late.

While no city staffers have been asked to help out in Newfoundland, where troops of soldiers are now headed with shovels, Mann said, “we send our thoughts out to Newfoundland on their extraordinary snowfall…

“There are always things we take away or learn” from watching these kinds of emergency efforts in other parts of the country, she added.

Last week Red Deer was hit by extreme cold, which could have created local emergencies. “We were communicating with other departments,” said Mann, to try to stay on top of things, such as any water main breaks or blackouts that could happen.

On Monday, Red Deer city council approved a new Emergency Management Bylaw for the city. It was prompted by changes in the provincial code.

Mann said most of the revisions are administrative, but some new minimum training requirements were also set out, as well as how often emergency exercises are held.

“All in all, in Red Deer we are meeting or exceeding almost all of these requirements,” said Mann.

She believes the new Emergency Management Bylaw will be easier for citizens to read and understand when it’s added to the city’s website.


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