Township of Gillies takes stock of storm response as Northwestern Ontario prepares for more winter conditions

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As Northwestern Ontario braces for another week of potentially harsh weather, officials in the Township of Gillies, Ontario are proposing new storm contingency plans after power in the community was cut off for days last week.

A weather system moved across northwestern Ontario in the middle of last week. Soon, powerful gusts of wind and heavy wet snow created a recipe for disaster.

“I was actually pleasantly surprised that so many people were self-sufficient,” said Wendy Wright, Warden of Gillies Township.

“We always ask people to have 72-hour emergency kits, that sort of thing at home. But we’re very lucky the temperature has been mild. If it had been -30C with this was going on, that would have been quite a different story,” she said.

The township council will hold a regular meeting Monday evening, and Wright said the response to the storm and outage will be debriefed.

She said contingency plans need to be created for scenarios where outages occur in even harsher and much colder weather.

Volunteers conduct wellness checkups

The outage prompted township officials to organize volunteers and the volunteer fire department to go door to door, ensuring people were safe and had all the supplies they needed. A state of emergency was also declared on Friday, which has since been lifted.

“It’s just too long for people, so luckily everyone was safe,” Wright said.

Wright said all residents were checked on Friday, as volunteers were also having difficulty getting around on rural roads.

Another obstacle to the storm was the loss of cell reception, further isolating some members of the community.

“There aren’t many people who have landlines anymore, it’s true. I have one here. The fire chief has one…Maybe more people will have one now,” he said. said Wright.

Parts of the region could suffer another winter blow this week

Wright said power outages are certainly not unusual in the rural community, located about 35 kilometers west of Thunder Bay, but she said the outage was the longest she has seen during her tenure. prefect of the canton.

The weather is also becoming more unstable as the climate changes, forcing many municipalities to rethink their responses to preparing for significant weather events.

Environment Canada has issued a number of special weather statements for Sunday. (Environment Canada)

In fact, the bad weather may not be over yet for the winter.

Environment Canada released weather reports for part of northwestern Ontario on Sunday, affecting the areas of Kakabeka Falls, Whitefish Lake, Atikokan, Shebandowan, Quetico and Upsala.

Snow is expected in the area starting Sunday evening, which could reach around 15 centimeters by Monday, before changing to a mix of rain and freezing drizzle.

“If you are traveling on Monday morning there may be some snowy roads, especially some of the higher ground areas along the highway. It could be a tough trip for Sunday in [Monday] Morning. And then it should reduce to scattered showers, showers and dry out quickly for Tuesday, ”said Ryan Rozinskis, metrologist at Environment Canada.

The federal agency is also closely monitoring a “strong and slow” moving system that is expected to bring significant amounts of snow to the region on Wednesday.

Rozinskis said areas near the Manitoba border like Kenora, Dryden, Red Lake and north of Pikangikum could see more than 40 centimeters of snow starting Wednesday and extending through Thursday.

Moving east from the Manitoba border into the Thunder Bay area, the storm could bring a winter mix of snow and rain according to Environment Canada.

“It’s shaping up to be quite a heavy snowfall and certainly not uncommon at this time of year…but it’s a lot of snow even by winter standards,” he said.

Rozinski said the public should continue to check with Environment Canada online for updated weather alerts, as details of the storm are not yet clear and could change by Wednesday.

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