Major Bruce Shirran, area commander, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, is ready serve displaced people at a warming centreMajor Bruce Shirran, area commander, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, is ready serve displaced people at a warming centre

Salvation Army Responds After N.L. Wind Storm

Warming centres offer comfort to residents in need.

March 20, 2017


When the St. John’s area of Newfoundland and Labrador was struck by the strongest wind storm to hit in 40 years in March, The Salvation Army sprang into action, providing assistance in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South, N.L.

Winds of up to 160 km/hour caused many power lines to become disengaged, prompting a flood of calls to 911 for assistance.

“Our emergency disaster services (EDS) leadership noticed that after many hours of nonstop, back-to-back calls for firefighters of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department, these first responders had not had an opportunity to eat or stay hydrated,” says Matthew Reid, co-ordinator—Avalon Region, emergency disaster services, Newfoundland and Labrador Division. “Our emergency response unit was mobilized to various locations where we provided snacks and beverages.”

Major Pauline Randell, corps officer, Mount Pearl, prepares hot water for tea and coffee

Major Pauline Randell, corps officer, Mount Pearl, prepares hot water for tea and coffee

By evening, 70,000 people were without electricity and it became apparent that the wind had caused enough damage that restoration would not be immediate. The City of St. John’s asked the Army to provide beverages and snack food for the warming centre that would be opened the following morning at City Hall. The city later requested that the Army provide meals for a shelter to be opened that evening.

“This request prompted EDS to put together a larger team,” notes Reid. This team included volunteers and staff from divisional headquarters, working side by side with the Canadian Red Cross.

The town of Conception Bay South activated their emergency agreement with the local Army corps, turning the corps building into a warming centre for the community. The corps provided soup and sandwiches, while EDS provided the corps with cots so that it could offer lodging services.

“Many gallons of coffee and tea were served, hundreds of snacks were provided, and some positive conversations took place between the victims of the wind storm and our volunteers and staff,” says Reid.

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