Fire Fighting in Canada

Uncategorized Emergency Management
First Onsite reflects on one year anniversary of Hurricane Fiona

September 22, 2023 
By First Onsite Property Restoration


One year ago, Atlantic Canadian residents and communities were shocked to see much of their community affected by a fierce storm. In September of 2022, after surging north from the Caribbean, Hurricane Fiona ripped through Atlantic Canada as a post-tropical storm battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland with hurricane-strength winds, heavy rains and huge waves.

In one dramatic case, Port aux Basques, on the southwest tip of Newfoundland, powerful flooding saw some homes and office buildings washed out to sea.

The catastrophe mobilized the nation and according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada became the most costly extreme weather event ever recorded in Atlantic Canada and the tenth largest in Canada in terms of insured damages – surpassing the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire.

“Storms aren’t acting like they used to, and disaster plans are typically based on what has happened in the past,” said Jim Mandeville, SVP of Large Loss for First Onsite Property Restoration. “Hurricanes are escalating more quickly than ever, and disaster plans need to be thoroughly thought out and practiced regularly.”

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Remembering the storm

In September of 2022, First Onsite Property Restoration launched a command centre and deployed a team of specialists from across the country to support relief and cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. The company conducted hundreds of restoration projects in the residential and commercial sectors after the hurricane. Crews worked to ensure that critical community infrastructure including grocery stores, hardware stores and banks were able get up and running to serve residents quickly.

The failure of powerlines and telecoms made communications more difficult. The team operated off a mix of satellite and cell-based internet to ensure timely communications. On PEI, many employees and project managers were operating on generators, as most of the island had no power.

Case study: the way forward

First Onsite created a case study on Hurricane Fiona in Atlantic Canada focused on four pillars: what happened; the pre-crisis response; the post-crisis recovery; and the way forward. Click here to read the case study.

Local concerns addressed in weather survey

In the wake of Hurricane Fiona, First Onsite also conducted a spring national survey asking Atlantic Canadians what weather events were keeping them up at night. The region, still reeling from Fiona was by far the country’s most worried region regarding damage caused by hurricanes (76, mould (77 and concerns of having to leave their home or community (58 per cent) in case of an extreme weather event.

Hurricane tips to minimize a storm’s impact on homes or businesses:

  • Protect your facility / home against flooding
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage
  • Backup data
  • Create an inventory of your property contents
  • Secure loose outdoor objects
  • Board up windows
  • Don’t forget about pets
  • Stay informed with local updates
  • Determine employee responsibilities (who shuts off utilities, who barricades doors and window, etc.)
  • Communicate an evacuation route for employees and customers
  • Develop procedures for keeping track of employees and customers
  • Understand where emergency equipment and supplies are located

“The unpredictability of climate and weather over the past several years highlights the importance of planning and preparation to ensure homes and businesses are resilient to these shocks and better prepared for tomorrow,” said Mandeville.

First Onsite has launched a hurricane preparedness resource page that can be used by businesses and residents.


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