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‘All in all, things are okay here in Holyrood.’

Mayor said community weathered storm without having to declare state of emergency

By Mark Squibb | Vol. 32 No. 42 (Jan. 23, 2020)

Holyrood Mayor Gary Goobie said he is proud of how the Conception Bay community pulled together to weather this past weekend’s major blizzard.

“You could clearly see neighbours helping neighbours,” Goobie said. “You could see neighbours going up the road with their snowblowers seeing who they could help next. It was certainly something. And I’m so proud of the community for coming together the way that they did to overcome this severe snowstorm the way that they did. It was absolutely amazing.”

Like the rest of us, Goobie was anxiously watching the weather forecast in the days leading up to the storm.

“The biggest priority, in my role as mayor, is public safety and staff safety, as we ‘whether the storm.

 “Leading up the storm, two or three days in advance, I was listening to the forecast in detail, because these things can take a turn and end up being wore then expected, or they can just petter out,” Goobie said.

“Thursday night I visited the fire station, and they were all there congregating. They had everything planned out that they were going to do.

“They were quite prepared. And public works staff were quite prepared. So everybody was on the same page leading into this. So I got to say, the Town of Holyrood was well prepared to go head on with this storm.”

Goobie said that communication between council, public work staff, and residents was key to battling the storm.

“Everybody was all on the same page. There was excellent communication between all of them. Everything went very smooth. I couldn’t be any prouder as a mayor, of all of our volunteer fire fighter(s), and volunteers in the community, and our public work staff and our operators,” said Goobie.

And, unlike other nearby communities such as Paradise, Conception Bay South, Mount Pearl, and St. John’s, Holyrood did not declare a state of emergency, which would force businesses to close and residents to stay off the road.

“I had heard other municipalities had declared a state of emergency. And obviously in my role that’s something that I have to consider under such adverse conditions. And when they were really deteriorating, and the winds were picking up, there were times I really considered consulting with council and making a decision, ‘should we pull everything off the road, and call a state of emergency, and shut everything down?’” explained Goobie.

“I didn’t call the state of emergency because I felt that the town had the situation well-manned, we had it under control.  And really, what necessitates declaring a state of emergency is when the situation overwhelms our ability to be able to mitigate the emergency with the personnel and available resources. That’s what constituents the requirement to call a state of emergency.”

Goobie also noted that in having conversations with public works staff and private snow-clearing contractors, he felt that workers were comfortable to work and get the roads cleared.

“They felt comfortable. They didn’t feel that their safety was being compromised. Which is paramount… they were relentless, and determined not to let the storm get the upper hand. And they stayed out all night Friday night, kept all the roads passable, and as a result, the next morning they had everything well in hand. All of our town roads (early Saturday morning) were all passable and by afternoon, they were all widened. And a lot of them were back to normal, pretty much.

“Every municipality is different in dealing with theses things. And I can only speak from Holyrood’s perspective… we didn’t feel it was necessary, at any given point, to call the state of emergency,” he said.

Things such as vehicle traffic (which isn’t as high in Holyrood, as say, Conception Bay South) are considered before declaring a state of emergency.

Goobie said there was little in the way of damage that he was aware of, despite high waves and salt spray along the coastline, and a warming station was opened at the fire hall for residents who lost power.

“All in all, things are ok here in Holyrood.

“We’re very resilient, and we can handle anything that comes at us. And this was a true case in point.”

However, this isn’t Goobie’s first winter in Holyrood. “We can’t let our guard down too early after the storm,” he said. “We have to remain vigilant. We’re still in the latter part of January.

“You always have to be prepared for what’s coming next,” he said.

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