Thursday, 9 August 2012

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

Bobby Roy

The Extra Point

This summer, especially the month of July, has been marked with severe storm after severe storm hammering the capital region.

As someone who is born and raised in the Edmonton region, the F-4 tornado that slammed the city on July 31, 1987 isn’t a memory of mine, since I was only born six months earlier, but is a news event that I have done plenty of reading on.

For the Edmontonians who lived and were affected by the ferocious tornado that took the lives of 27 people, injuring more than 300, destroyed countless properties and caused more than $300 million in damage, it’s an event they never want to see again.

I find weather very fascinating, especially severe weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes, so when nasty weather is forecasted and begins to happen, I like to keep on top of anything that’s happening in the skies. As far as my memory goes back I can’t remember a summer like this one that’s had so many tornado warnings been issued in the province, especially in the capital region.

On July 23, tornado warnings were issued for Edmonton’s neighbouring communities of Beaumont, Leduc and other portions of Leduc County. No tornado was reported to have touched down, but the dark, ominous clouds surely reminded those who lived through the 1987 tornado that it could happen again. Tornado warnings were also issued on July 30 near Olds, Sundre and east of Edmonton. Thankfully, no tornadoes touched down, but with the anniversary of Black Friday the day after, I’m sure memories of that tornado were fresh as warnings popped up around the capital region on July 30.

The frequent amount of tornado warnings is unusual as Alberta only averages 10 tornadoes a year, with just one having the possibility of reaching violent proportions.

Dr. Harold Brooks, a U.S. researcher on tornadoes, reported in one study the odds of a violent tornado hitting Alberta is about once in every 40,000 years.

The odds of Edmonton, Devon, Leduc or Beaumont getting hit by a veracious tornado is slim, but with the recent string of violent weather hitting the region, it feels like those odds increase dramatically even if they actually don’t.

Whenever severe weather starts bubbling up, it’s usually the top story of the day and with popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, when severe weather happens, it’s usually the hot topic of conversation.

It’s fascinating to see how Mother Nature can cook up such violent storms, but it’s more important to remember the possible damage and what effect they can have on people’s livelihoods.

Giving thanks to those who deserve it

Stephanie Dubois
French Connection
How many of us would risk our lives for a loved one or a friend trapped in a burning building? I would like to think most Canadians would raise our hands without hesitation.
But would you be willing to risk your life for a complete stranger? Some may be more reluctant to do so. Thankfully for us, there are some men and women who don’t hesitate for a second to rescue someone trapped in a car or injured from a workplace accident.
Those men and women are the City of Leduc and Leduc County firefighters, as well as the province’s RCMP, sheriffs and peace officers.
It would be safe to say many have the utmost respect for the members of our society who do their part to make sure people are safe, but do we fully understand what they have to deal with on a daily, weekly and yearly basis?
Yes, they respond to fire calls, accidents and commercial reports but there is so much more to their jobs than when we see them helping others on scene.
Although I do not claim to be an expert on the daily routine of our men and women in uniform, I am thankful to be privy to have seen different events in the area, which involves all level of skills and backgrounds.
Most recently, I have seen firefighters from the area and from across the province practice their vehicle extrication skills. From the brand new rookie to the deputy chief with more than 30 years experience, all of them are dedicated to making sure their skills on the most recent extrication tools and technology are up to date so they can best help people.
Being a member of the media, I have often seen police and fire officials working on scene at accidents, residential fire and other incidents, using those skills and further proving how important protective services members are to the community and just how vital their continuous training efforts are. Without their ongoing training and their dedication to their job, society would be missing a crucial service for its citizens.
Specialized training is especially crucial for this area, with growing Leduc County and City of Leduc populations, as well as the Nisku and Leduc business parks holding several hundred businesses.
But even beyond their training, the majority of these men and women firefighters have full time day jobs. Some are volunteer firefighters, most are paid by the call, but either way, they are all dedicated to the cause.
In my opinion, one of the most underappreciated parts of their firefighting and policing jobs is people always assume they will always be there when we need them. Yes, there will always be courageous people willing to step up to the role in a community but what if there isn’t? It’s for that reason that I believe they should know how much their services are appreciated, even if we are fortunate enough to never need them.
I’ve heard from countless police and fire services officials before saying it requires a certain ‘type’ of person to be either a firefighter or police officer and they always look for certain qualities or personality traits when recruiting.
I believe we all have the ability to be brave in an emergency situation but we don’t all have the personalities to encourage us tp run into a burning building or help someone just hit by a car, which is why the men and women in uniform who are willing to do it deserve all the credit they can get.