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‘Paradise proud’

Mayor Dan Bobbett said staff and residents handled storm well

By Chris Lewis | Vol. 32 No. 42 (Jan. 23, 2020)

Come February 5, Paradise will start celebrating its annual Snow and Ice in Paradise winter carnival.

But residents certainly didn’t have to wait until then to get a dose of the white stuff – some 84 centimetres of snow, along with winds topping 150 km/hour, beat down on Paradise during this past weekend.

 “A couple of days before they were saying this is going to be a big one,” Bobbett said. “They were saying 50 centimetres, and then they were saying 60 centimetres, and could be as high as 80 centimetres. Then you start planning. We started planning about two days out. Staff were very on top of this and had a plan in place when it comes to essential services, like garbage collection.”

Part of that plan included adding an additional snow clearing crew to make sure that Topsail Road was cleared for use as a main thoroughfare for emergency vehicles.

“That crew was (there) specifically to maintain Topsail Road and the collectors,” explained Bobbett.

There were no injuries or major damage.

Like other Metro communities, the town declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon, which went well into the following week.

Paradise has an emergency preparedness committee, consisting of Bobbett, Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie, councillor Sterling Willis, and councillor Alan English. That group conferred with CAO Lisa Niblock when making the decision to call the state of emergency

“It’s better to have people off the road so our plow operators can get there and (get) the job done, and keep the main thoroughfares open,” Bobbett said.
For Bobbett, and the Town, safety was always the utmost concern.

He said that there was plenty of communication between the Town and emergency services during the storm.

“The COA has been having at least two or three meetings a day with all the regional people affected— that’s the City of St. Johns, the City of Mount Pearl, Portugal Cove- St. Phillips, the RNC, Fire Department, Eastern Health,” said the mayor. “This is something we’ve practised for. After (Hurricane) Igor, there have been several mock disaster plans executed to prepare for such an incident as this.”

Bobbett, along with Town staff, drove around Sunday to check for any damage.

“One thing we noticed out driving around was groups of individuals in the neighbourhood helping each other,” said Bobbett. “I’m ‘Paradise proud.’ It’s about coming together as a community and helping your neighbour. Human kindness shines in the face of adversity. And we saw lots of that.”

He noted that despite the heavy snow and high winds, there was no large-scale damage done that he is aware of.

“There was no significant large-scale damage. I’m sure the wind caused a fair bit of damage to individual houses,” he said.

Looking back, Bobbett said he is proud of how the Town and its residents handled the storm.

 “I believe we were ready, and we got it done,” he said. “And now we’re cleaning up, and we’ll get that done too.”

Once the clean-up is done, Bobbett said the Town will confer and plan for the next major storm.  

“We will have a round table discussion to see if there are things that we can do better. Basically, a debrief. We’ll do that debrief, and talk about things we did, and if there are things we could do better.”

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