Communities rally together in times of crisis

First off I would like to thank the Lacombe Express for offering me in my capacity as mayor of Blackfalds a chance to author a monthly

MELODIE STOL

First off I would like to thank the Lacombe Express for offering me in my capacity as mayor of Blackfalds a chance to author a monthly article. The Town of Blackfalds appreciates the efforts of the Express in striving to become a local paper for both Blackfalds and Lacombe.

My thoughts this past month have been with communities from all around Canada who have been faced with emergencies. From the flooding in southern Alberta and the train derailment of Quebec -we all have watched the news and sent our prayers, made donations to Red Cross and even strapped on our rubber boots and made trips to our neighbours to lend a hand. Over the next few months we will watch as recovery moves forward and hopefully take time to learn from these emergencies so we are better prepared for the next time.

Central Alberta is not immune to disasters. We all have a responsibility to ask ourselves “Is my family prepared?” Public Safety Canada offers excellent resources for families and individuals to make a plan for self-sufficiency for 72 hours. The web site is www.GetPrepared.ca and has all the information needed for the preparation of a household plan tailored to your family’s unique needs as well as checklists for the creation of an emergency kit.

Our communities always need volunteers to step forward long before a disaster occurs. Our local fire departments and the Red Cross are always seeking new members. I encourage you that if you want to make a long-term difference in your community to contact your municipal office about opportunities within your local fire department. If the work of the Red Cross is of interest to you, go to their web site at www.redcross.ca to find out about the training offered and needed to make a positive impact during an emergency.

Good planning at the community level is also vital to the successful management of an emergency. I am very proud of the 11 member communities of the Lacombe Regional Emergency Management Partnership. These diverse communities – the County of Lacombe, the City of Lacombe, the towns of Blackfalds, Bentley and Eckville, the villages of Alix and Clive and the summer villages of Gull Lake, Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay and Sunbreaker Cove – all have unique resources to bring to the table and have worked hard together to make a solid response plan to the potential threats that could come to pass. All member communities are actively training staff and volunteers as well as participating in test scenarios in order to improve the effectiveness of the plan. These local governments are also working with many area partners – industrial businesses, Alberta Health Services, local school boards and utility companies just to name a few. No one entity will be able to manage a disaster alone, it takes many willing partners to have comprehensive plan.

The communities of southern Alberta and Lac-Megantic are only at the beginning of what will be a long road to full recovery. We stand together with those affected and I know people all across Canada continue to stand ready to assist in any capacity needed for them. I am also certain that should disaster strike close to home that people will be there for us as well. Moving forward, it is extremely important that all citizens to become a proactive partner in emergency planning – make a plan for your household, assemble an emergency kit and learn how you can be a part of a solution should disaster strike.

Melodie Stol is the mayor of the Town of Blackfalds.