City life resumes following blackout

Braden Dupuis
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With seemingly the worst of the blackout behind them, the City of Prince Albert, its services and its citizens were moving forward on Wednesday.


With seemingly the worst of the blackout behind them, the City of Prince Albert, its services and its citizens were moving forward on Wednesday.

For the most part, life resumed as normal, with facilities, gas stations and grocery stores re-opening for business.

While the Kinsmen Water Park, Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse and all spray parks remained closed, all other city facilities were open on Wednesday.

Mayor Jim Scarrow said the city and its residents performed admirably during the outage.

“I would say very well,” he said.

“First of all, we’re fortunate that it was in June and not January. It could have been devastating in terms of affecting many of our population in terms of just dealing with winter conditions with no heat source. That being said, it rallied the community.”

Throughout the day on Tuesday there were several instances of neighbours lending a hand, friends sharing power-outage tips and drivers acting courteously at powerless intersections.

“I think because everybody realized that each of us had a responsibility to be courteous and drive cautiously that they did so, so that was just a really good sign of how the community responded,” Scarrow said.

The public was also mindful of their wastewater usage, helping the city’s treatment plant remain at manageable levels.

While Scarrow said that the city has “quality water and lots of it,” for drinking purposes, wastewater usage (toilet flushes, long showers, etc.) should be kept to a minimum until power is fully restored.

The SaskPower crews who are working diligently to provide that power to the city deserve thanks, he said.

“This was an act-of-god storm that went through,” Scarrow said.

“The conditions that they are working in are in remote areas, where wheeled vehicles aren’t applicable. They needed to find tracked vehicles so that they could travel and bring supplies in, so kudos to them.”

The city’s other services, including Parkland Ambulance and the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS), did their part as well.

Despite bringing all hands on deck for the possibility of opportunistic thieves, police had a relatively quiet night, responding to approximately 50 calls.

Kelly McLean, media relations officer with the PAPS, said the service was well prepared for the blackout.

“We’ve had that plan in place for a long, long time,” he said, on PAPS power-outage protocols.

“We should all do that kind of preventative planning, and we’ve done that scenario planning in the past. It’s a little difficult to know in terms of manpower, but we try to err on the side of caution, and we brought in extra staff last night.”

The all-hands-on-deck approach meant a higher visibility of police officers around the city.

With most of their bases covered, McLean said the main concern among police was uncontrolled intersections.

“We were a little concerned (Tuesday) about all of those traffic lights going down, because we don’t deal with that issue much,” he said.

“The city got some power to the main intersections to allow traffic flow north and south.”

The concerns were unfounded, however, as the four-way stop system at most intersections resulted in few collisions.

“We do more vehicle collisions when the traffic lights are working than we did (Tuesday) when the traffic lights weren’t working,” said Lyle Karasiuk, director of public affairs for Parkland Ambulance.

While Parkland Ambulances paramedics didn’t have much to deal with in the way of major incidents, the power outage shows the need for emergency preparedness.

“It’s a good reminder for all of us,” Karasiuk said.

“Those things we used to get through the blackout — candles, battery-powered radios, flashlight, extra batteries, bottled water — (are) things that we need to stock up on. As you’re restocking those, think about building a kit. It doesn’t take much.”

Scarrow agreed that preparation is essential for future emergency situations.

“I think it would be prudent, particularly as we approach winter, to have some kind of plan should power go out,” he said, adding that he doesn’t mean for people to worry or panic, “but I think we do need to think about this eventuality happening to us at a time when we would be most vulnerable.”

All told, the community’s 24-hour brush with a simpler way of life amounts to nothing more than an inconvenience when compared to other incidents around the world.

“Nobody was injured, nobody lost their life … just think of Elliot Lake, and the tragedy that they’re going through as a community (with the mall collapse),” Scarrow said.

“We’re not even on any kind of measurement like that. We were inconvenienced, but not largely enough that it would have impacted us. We just had to be a little more resourceful, and perhaps a little more respectful of those services that we count on, right from our coffee in the morning through to gasoline in the evening.”

Organizations: Prince Albert Police Service, SaskPower

Geographic location: Prince Albert, Kinsmen Water Park, Elliot Lake

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