Sweeter Dreams after the Nightmare before Christmas: Post-Ice Storm Capacity-Building and Resilience

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Michelle SULLIVAN, City of Brampton, Canada
The December 2013 ice storm destroyed 42,000 trees, made travel treacherous, caused wide-scale utilities disruptions and cost the City of Brampton 51 million dollars. The storm differentially impacted the whole region; resources to address impacts were at a premium. Several of the disaster response agencies struggled to answer the needs identified. Some staff were away on holiday, regional volunteer capacities were over-extended, and the area’s few certified tree-cutting crews could not answer the demand suddenly placed upon them. Brampton Emergency Management Office personnel made it through this difficult time by depending on its Community Emergency Response Volunteers, city staff and tree-cutting crews hired out of Buffalo, New York.

After action reports revealed that the shelters were under-utilized. In the final analysis, reception centres with information updates, temporary warm-up areas and charging centres for electronic devices were needed, but appropriate facilities were too far from the citizens who needed them the most. When travel by any conveyance is dangerous, resources within walking distance are crucial. Follow-up revealed many received assistance from faith-based organizations (FBOs) in their vicinity. Baseline resilience analysis revealed why: Ninety percent of Brampton’s population affiliates itself with a faith. Clearly, there’s a need to have FBOs involved in disaster service provision but it raises the question: how do we involve these organizations and at what level?

Municipalities that are understaffed and facing budgetary constraints still need to build their emergency management program’s capacity to be in compliance with provincial laws. This research explores how the City of Brampton developed a cost-effective program to address this need, using applications of several sociological and inter-disciplinary theoretical models to bring eight faith-based organizations willing to train, into a collaborative relationship with it’s emergency management office through their Lighthouse Program.