Report on Winter (Christmas) Storm

No doubt in the interest of transparency, at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Brent Larmer will present a report on how the Christmas storm emergency was managed.  I didn’t see any announcement but Brent (Director of Legislative Services) is now the “Community Emergency Management Coordinator” (CEMC) and Fire Chief Ellard Beavan is the alternate CEMC.  Other members of the team (for the Storm emergency) were: CAO (Tracey Vaughan,  Fire Chief (Ellard Beavan), Police Chief (Paul VandeGraaf), Public Works (Laurie Wills), LUSI (Dereck Paul), Communications (Kara Euale) and Manager of Facilities (Jason Johns).  They met in 13 meetings over the period December 23 to 25 and Brent reports that during the Holiday “over 50 Front line Staff worked, assisted and contributed to response and recovery”.

The 51 page report provides considerable detail on the Storm and how it was managed – it’s available for Download in Resources below.  I won’t repeat its contents or attempt a detailed summary of it – instead I’ll note some highlights:

Report Highlights

  • Brent thanked residents: “Thank-You for supporting one-another, staying off the roads, helping neighbours and Strangers (new friends), and sending in your encouragement to Municipal Staff and frontline responders!”
  • The report includes a timeline of actions (note that I produced a report of what the Town did – see Resources).
  • One of the issues was a stalled VIA train in Cobourg’s West end and one of the problems was that despite 911 calls from passengers, it was not initially known where the train was.
  • Communication to the Public relied heavily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as 9 Press Releases.
  • The Wheels service managed to transport some residents needing dialysis treatment.  There were no known injuries or deaths because of the Storm.
  • The report includes information on tree and other damage
  • Brent lists 15 lessons learned and 10 recommendations.   This includes:  “Integrate and purchase a Town of Cobourg controlled Public Alerting System that can be used to educate and support residents and visitors leading up to, during and following an emergency”.

But I recommend reading the full report – or at least download then speed read for key points.  


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1 February 2023 5:31 pm

Amazing results from so many individuals! We had a weather event that was truly forecasted and labelled “a bomb” or “a cyclone” and so many people were enduring those dreadful conditions on our behalf! These were conditions that we have never before experienced.

30 January 2023 11:51 am

It is enough for me to know that this Town assisted people (whether local or not) and facilities. Congrats to all of those involved. Thank you. Also note to Brent, thanks for the LL’d and the recommendations. It isn’t always the case that processes are reviewed after the fact and improvements/notes listed.

30 January 2023 9:52 am

Six comments so far and four of them about a spelling mistake. Keep on topic!
Actually seven if you count this one.

This is for the pedants –

30 January 2023 9:49 am

Six comments so far, Four of them about a spelling mistake – where are your priorities people?

Seven including this one – this is for the pedants amongst us!

Last edited 2 months ago by ben
mrs bigley
Reply to  ben
30 January 2023 10:00 am

always the sinick???????

30 January 2023 8:36 am

I am shocked that there is no generator at the CCC. That should be a priority spend if its going to be the major facility in town for those affected by events. I also think there should be an additional facility earmarked for the centre or west end of town in case the CCC is unavailable.

The CCC should be available 24/7 when these incidents occur.

On a personal note: My apt was without power for over 24 hours. We have electric baseboard heat and poor insulation/windows (living in a heritage building ain’t all that grand). By the time the power came back on the temp in the apt was 40F. I know others had it worse.

Greg H
Reply to  Are_n
30 January 2023 11:47 am

The Town of Cobourg owns a portable generator mounted on its own trailer.
Several years ago the town was going to buy an emergency generator for Victoria Hall (so that
they could still collect taxes during a power outage ?).
The town was persuaded to buy a portable generator that it could be used for Victoria Hall but also elsewhere if necessary in emergencies. The generator is usually parked to the north of the market building at the south of Victoria Hall. The generator needs a truck to haul it, and is the type used by the movie industry. It should be large enough to handle the basics at the CCC.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Greg H
30 January 2023 12:46 pm

It is nice that Cobourg has a portable generator but is the generator tested on a regular basis? Is a large fuel tank part of the trailer and filled with fresh fuel? Is the means to connect the generator to the electrical system of the CCC available, documented and tested periodically? Does Cobourg have a truck suitable to move the generator to the CCC? How will Cobourg collect taxes if the backup generator is at the CCC?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
30 January 2023 1:30 pm

Both the Town Hall and the CCC should be equipped with a
Genernac generator. They hook up directly into the natural gas line. If the power goes out, they automatically kick in.

Greg H
Reply to  Ken Strauss
31 January 2023 9:34 am

You could add to your questions:
Is anybody at the town aware they have this generator?
Is there any staff member assigned to operate, or tow the generator?

I imagine all the answers would be negative.

Reply to  Greg H
31 January 2023 10:47 am

Well since they talked about it In a recent council meeting I would say they know about it.

Cobourg taxpayer
29 January 2023 8:47 pm

What exactly is public alerting system Brett is proposing to purchase? If power is off and internet is intermittent how are alerts being transmitted? Years ago I bought a battery operated radio for these situations but a lot of the local radio stations prerecord their news and weather so that’s useless. But honestly when are people responsible for themselves? Check the weather and prepare ahead.

29 January 2023 8:25 pm

STROM overview and STROM response. Really ?

Reply to  Ann
30 January 2023 8:17 am

When I notice a spelling error in John’s reports, I email him and tell him privately. Perhaps try it; you may like it!

Last edited 2 months ago by Gerald
Ian Bowen
Reply to  Gerald
30 January 2023 8:28 am

Well said!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Gerald
30 January 2023 9:15 am

The error is on the first page of the town’s report rather than John’s.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
30 January 2023 5:02 pm

Noted. Thankyou

Reply to  John Draper
31 January 2023 10:10 am

As a retired emergency manager for the Provincial government I was interested to read the report on the town’s response to the Dec, 23/24th storm. First let me say you have come long way from when I read the plan 12 years ago, and I’m hope you will take the lessons learned from the storm to further refine the plan. To everyone reading this, if predictions are accurate we will see more and more of these events in the future, so please review you own circumstances and be as prepared as possible. Secondly, in an emergency, services are pared down to a hierarchy of what’s essential to keep the public safe, it’s not business as usual, so please be patient. Suggestion though, many of us retired folks do not use social media, Twitter in particular, so please look at other methods of communication.

Reply to  J.C.
31 January 2023 10:49 am

They stated they are looking at other means of communicating.