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The spirit of the holidays in action

Ice on light fixture
Ice on light fixture

It was the true spirit of the holidays in action as volunteers, community agencies, emergency response teams, and so many more stepped up to warm, feed and come to the aid of their neighbours following last week’s ice storm in Halton Region. The storm left thousands without power for days, including Christmas day and beyond. Downed trees and branches littered streets and yards, and created havoc for homeowners and drivers. Halton Region wants to thank the countless people who gave up their holiday plans to lend a hand.

 “The ice storm created many challenges for our community - especially over the holidays - but I have been so impressed by the extraordinary efforts and time individuals from across the Region have committed to help anyone affected,” said Gary Carr, Regional Chair. “I want to sincerely thank everyone who went above and beyond for others, and am pleased our emergency response plans with our community partners were effective in supporting our community.”

Response to the storm started with local hydro companies responding to the significant scale of power outages. As hours turned into days, and the demand for work to continue around the clock, crews from across the province arrived to lend a hand, with some coming from as far away as Sault Ste. Marie. Hydro crews working Christmas Day were even supplied hot turkey dinners by the Nassagewaya Presbyterian church, who also opened its doors for residents needing warmth.

Police, fire and paramedics worked tirelessly. The Kilbride volunteer fire fighters, for example, worked night and day to support the community with warm drinks and provide power to recharge phones and devices.

Staff from each Local Municipality were also involved from the beginning responding to resident needs, working alongside hydro crews, coordinating and opening warming and evacuation centres, and regularly keeping residents up to date with progress. Staff from Halton Region’s Public Works Department have been available throughout arranging extra equipment for debris clean up and assisting with collection.

As power outages continued, warming and evacuation centres began to open across the Region. Halton Region managed the centre in Georgetown at the Gellert Community Centre, and helped in the set up of the Haber Recreation Centre in Burlington. Centres were a communal effort by municipal facility staff, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, St. John’s Ambulance all changing holiday plans to provide 24-hour care. Even the Oakville and Milton Humane Society pitched in to help with animal care beyond their usual boundaries.  Local companies also took part, like the Guelph Street Tim Horton’s in Georgetown who responded to needs and offered hot drinks at the Gellert Centre, and Mohawk Inn opened conference rooms and provided hot beverages to local residents.

Finally, keeping residents informed of the efforts in progress was essential as well. Halton Region’s CENS (Community Emergency Notification Service) was put to use. 14,000 residents in Halton Hills were notified by phone when all power had been restored and who to call if there were further power issues. Social media played a significant role keeping residents up to date with where to get information and help, and flagging issues along the way. Halton Region and HRPS want to thank everyone who retweeted messages and connected with community partners to help spread the word about response efforts in progress.