In Time of Floods 211 the Number to Call for Information
March 25, 2013 - At the beginning of a dismal day late last May, the 211 Regional Service Partner inThunder Bay was contacted by the City of Thunder Bay’s Emergency OperationsGroup and told to be ready for calls. The City was declaring a state of emergencyand directing residents to 211 for reliable information. In addition to their existingdatabase of resources the 211 service drew on the media releases from the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). However it soon became clear that 211 staff needed to get the information earlier and they began to attend the morning EOC meetings on a daily basis. This helped to confirm the detailed information needed by callers. For example Red Cross was registering people who needed food, clothing, toiletries and a place to stay.
There was a community outpouring of help and there were many offers of donations of household items. Where useful, these were directed to the Salvation Army and Red Cross, “who did a tremendous job”, says a 211 representative.Very quickly, the EOC initiated the Safe Home Program. The program helped families who had no or inadequate insurance to clean sewage out of their homes, replace furnaces, rip out damaged drywall, and get their homes cleaned up. 211 was advertised as the number to call to access the Safe Home Program. 211 staff then passed on caller information to designated contacts within the Thunder Bay Fire Department who then coordinated required services to individuals and families.
In the basement of a church in one of the neighbourhoods that experienced a lot of damage, an informal group of citizens collected a large variety of items that were required by individuals and families in the area. Items collected and distributed included personal hygiene products, clearing supplies, food, diapers and baby formula.
Thunder Bay is used to rallying in times of difficulty. During snow storms that result in snow banks taller than people, the 211 service provides callers with information about school and road closures, and links people to the services they need such as a senior with a disability who needs her driveway shovelled.