UPDATE: Local state of emergency called, city cleaning up

It could be another 72 hours before power is restored to all of Red Deer, city officials said Wednesday evening.

About 15 per cent of the city remained without power as of last night including: the west side of Riverside Meadows, Village Mall, Highland Green, Grandview, Eastview, Vanier Woods, Westlake, Fort Normandeau and the Riverside Drive area, including the Lions Campground. A number of small pockets were also without power.

Despite the severity and suddenness of the storm, injuries were few. The city said it had a report of one person injured at Lions Campground, who was treated and released from hospital. Two youngsters were also reportedly taken to hospital from the BMX park.

Mayor Tara Veer said at a Wednesday evening news conference that the local state of emergency declared earlier remains in effect. Veer said it has been a challenging time for the community and thanked residents for their patience.

Given what could be a lengthy period without power for some, the city urged residents to turn to friends, neighbours and family for help if needed. People can also call 211 and the city at 403-342-8111 for assistance or if they experience a new power outage lasting longer than two hours.

The city is providing regular updates through social media and on its website at www.reddeer.ca.

Paul Goranson, director of the city’s emergency operations centre, said after the cleanup and repair work got underway it was realized “it was much more severe than we originally anticipated.”

From 30 to 40 power poles were downed or damaged so badly they must be replaced. Complicating the repair job is the scale of the destruction to local trees. Many trees that have stood tall through everything nature could throw at them for decades succumbed on Wednesday, in some cases toppling onto power lines.

“The volume of the trees that have come down and the size of the trees is much larger than what we normally have to deal with,” he said, adding “that’s really the crux of the challenge we’re facing now and why it’s taking longer than first anticipated.”

The local state of emergency gives the city access to additional resources, including personnel, from other orders of government if required.

City manager Craig Curtis said on Wednesday morning that “Red Deer experienced an extreme storm last night; one that doesn’t compare to any I have ever experienced in Red Deer.”

City crews spent Tuesday night into Wednesday morning assessing the damage as a result of the windstorm and triaging work, dealing with major safety issues first. Red Deer County, the Town of Penhold and contractors have been providing assistance since early yesterday evening to help get power back on and clean up the city.

Some intersections are still without power and residents are urged to approach them with caution.

Ross Street, which was closed east of the downtown most of Wednesday, was expected to reopen last night.

The whole Waskasoo park system will remain closed until further notice to ensure the safety of residents and allow for the clean-up of the areas. River Bend Golf and Recreation Area, Dicovery Canyon, Oxbows Dog Off Leash Park and Great Chief Park are open.

Residents without power can use city recreation facilities for free to grab a shower, use Wi-Fi or recharge phones.

Below are some tips to follow during a power outage:Turn off appliances and unplug all sensitive electronic equipment. Keep one light switch turned on so you know when the power comes back on.

Think safety. Do not bring your gas or charcoal barbecue indoors. Be careful with candles.

Please consider food safety during a power outage. If the freezer door is left closed, food can stay frozen for many hours (12 to 48 hours depending on how full the freezer is and what kind of food is stored there). Most food will keep in the fridge for 24 hours. Dairy products, however, should be discarded after six hours.


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