Preparation for a hurricane
March 25, 2013 - People in Niagara Region were watching closely as the path of Hurricane Sandy was plotted by weather forecasters and threatened Niagara communities in late October 2012. Information Niagara, provides the 211 service to the Central South region of Ontario, so as Sandy’s route threatened the area senior staff were monitoring the impending storm by following news and weather reports as well as municipal websites and social media.
The twelve municipalities in Niagara Region use 211 as the number for the public to call for non-emergency information in times of emergencies and disasters. Municipal staff worked with Information Niagara to ensure that they had the most up to date information to provide to the public. Already the dreadful consequences of Sandy on the US east coast were becoming evident.
When the Town of Fort Erie shared their Storm Watch Be Prepared media release Information Niagara’s monitoring was heightened and remained at that level throughout the storm. Preparing for a surge in public inquiries the 211 service worked with the Region of Niagara and the City of St Catharines using their media releases and useful Hurricane Sandy Q & A, as well the regular updates from hydro companies and media outlets. Social media was widely used to promote use of 211 for up to date non-emergency and storm information. For example Niagara Regional Police tweeted 211 as the number to call, the Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls posted the media release to call 211 on his Facebook page and the Town of Niagara-On-the-Lake had the information on their website. Extra staffing remained in place at Information Niagara until it was clear that the Region was well out of danger.