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Councillor Maggie Burton calls for an inclusive emergency preparedness plan for Hurricane Larry

St. John’s, NL — September 9, 2021: As Hurricane Larry approaches Newfoundland and Labrador, Councillor Maggie Burton calls on governments at all levels to ensure their emergency preparedness plans are in place to keep all residents safe, including the most vulnerable members of our communities.

We learned from the snowstorm in January 2020 that if governments aren’t consulting with community partners and frontline service providers in advance, the most vulnerable could be left out in the cold. “During the eight-day state of emergency following Snowmaggedon in 2020, I was on the ground making sure residents got food, medications, and other essential supplies that they needed to survive, all while participating in important high-level, operational decision-making. Residents who were unable for various reasons to stock up before the storm were left in a precarious situation that I worked doggedly to mitigate. That experience taught me that it is essential to guarantee organizations offering support to those in need are able to continue their life-saving work, especially during times of crisis such as extreme weather events,” Councillor Burton said. 

Crises and emergencies require systemic responses that are attentive to the needs of vulnerable and marginalized communities. “While we, as residents of St. John’s, came together to support each other and fill the gaps, a system-wide approach is crucial to keep our neighbours from falling through the cracks. If our emergency preparedness fails to take into account the most vulnerable, it is incomplete. Residents should not have to suffer food insecurity and lack of access to things like methadone and baby supplies in addition to the stress of extreme weather.”

Actions at any government level must assure that essential services from front-line community organizations remain available to clients. While the trajectory of the storm is unclear at this point, emergency preparedness means managing risk as much as possible, for all members of society. 

Burton also encourages residents to make their own preparations now and to check in with their neighbours. She will be battening down the hatches at home with three small children and ready to respond to whatever may come.