Listen: Halifax, Hurricane, Engineer discussed on The Big Story
"To move inland. You might want to move out of your home. we took calls from some listeners who spent the night in hotels the emergency operation as the centers the the the the shelters they weren't vastly populated but we'll with people who had nowhere else to go no friends no family to go to so what happened when when the storm really hit on Saturday night as our station lost power we were on our backup generator clearly so you know that's limited lighting are transmitter went down a few times we were able through the work of our engineer to get it back to get us back on the air it was it was a bit jarring in that as the winds intensified in the rain got heavier and it got darker out and we were still still a few hours from actual from sunset did it did take on added an ominous tone quite the picture of you know this what could could be this potential for who knows what with the window shaking the water leaking around the window onto the studio floor. the question was a- are we going to be able to maintain our broadcasts. Are we going to be able to continue want and then it started to what we started to see the I move over Halifax and with that came a com it came. It became quite again a stark contrast where you hear this. is the storm that we we know this is no. That's a colloquial saying but there's some truth to it and you know. Are we still in for more at that point. We weren't sure we we were led to believe that there could in fact be as the system moved past the winds shifting direction and intensifying again so we were really left to wonder you know is this the worst of of it and actually did quite quickly after that as die down and lose much of its intensity. What kind of calls were you getting from listeners. during the storm. Tell me a little bit about the the role of a radio station broadcasting on a backup generator at a time like this when when I started working in radio it was records in it was overnight shows and it was before automation and we obviously had a connection to listeners at that time and you know we're getting to a point now where people can can get their media from just about anywhere but to have the ability to call someone up and we did. We did lose our phone lines for about an hour in the afternoon. we were able to get those back. We had no shortage of people who just wanted to connect just wanted to tell us what it was. They were seeing what they were experiencing. What they were feeling and many were just grateful grateful that they had a live voice in the midst of all of this and I was sharing with several of my co workers I had gone through at worked that another station and I had a really wonderful boss who who is on the air at one point during a massive power outage and I remember him speaking to this woman and it was just beside herself she was alone. It was dark. It was raining and it was intense and he said you're not alone. As long as you have the radio I went into into that whole the whole process on Saturday with that in mind that as long as we were on the air people were not by themselves and people really were. We're happy for that pleased by that. Were grateful for an outlet and we're really interested in just just reaching out as the system continue to diminishes the intensity continued to perhaps lesson people were just wanting to connect and we had one one one woman one caller who who rang up and said. I'm in a building without electricity. I can't get my car out of the park aid because the door won't go up and she said I'm on life saving medication. I've got eight thousand dollars worth of this medication that has to be refrigerated and she said I. I like the ice is melting. I'm worried I might lose this medication and we had an amazing response in fact within twenty minutes a listener her head connected with US connected with her and had driven over to her home again not knowing whether the storm was going to intensify to make sure that she was safe that her medicine was safe that she'd be okay for the day after it's stories like that that you you you'd never know how something might turn out. You can only hope for the best and in the spirit of community spirit of wanting to help each other out people were willing able and in quite eager to do what they could for others. How did this storm compared to some of the ones that have hit Halifax before you mentioned hurricane one but that one any others we've had I guess in I believe three years ago a post tropical storm Arthur came through about the same time of year that had a significant impact on the trees in the power lines and the electrical grid but at one point through this system four hundred thousand of the customers in Nova Scotia power most of per- perhaps even close to half a million people were without electricity unprecedented. They said I I don't know if we've ever the Senate event like that at least not in my recent memory that so many people were you know living with the same conditions at the same time was very much a narrow band and it hit with intensity category two hurricane and caused a tremendous amount of damage but only to a limited area whereas this system. Dory and brought with it enough wind and rain that it affected the entire province of Nova Scotia. I don't know if we can compare it to anything we've had recently so. What's it like on the ground there right now. There are some neighborhoods that have no issues whatsoever. There are some people who said their power stayed on and continues to be on today others who lost electricity and the media few hours of the system moving ashore et and coming close to us in you know there are many trees down on large trees I happen to as I was leaving to head back to my own home on on Sunday morning. Noticed a couple of power poles were snapped in half cruise been driving or have been working today and over the last number of hours clearing the brush clearing the trees off the roads. The streets for the most part have been been cleared many of the intersections that are still no power to the traffic signals. That's causing with well. That's that's creating its own problems with people. I guess forgetting the driver's handbook but the the idea that life has returned to normal not quite yet schools are still closed they're expected to be close to moral the businesses starting to reopen but many people. I think are just biding their time. was still just about one hundred and seventy thousand customers still without electricity. Many areas of Halifax are still without power and likely will be for well summer hearing It may be tomorrow. It might be the day after that could be who knows next week. What about injuries or deaths. I know there were some during hurricane one. That was the small consolation that was the part of the story that we were very concerned by but very relieved when officials on Saturday late Saturday updated the media and others say to their best of the to the best of their knowledge there were zero serious injuries zero fatalities. Wow obviously there are a potential danger with trees down lines being you know reenergized as as they get the system back. Get the grid backup to. It's you know it's full strength but all I can say is we. It was a lucky lucky thing and I don't know whether it was the preparation whether people took it seriously whether the experience of hurricane one planted that seed in the back of our minds that these things czar not just weather events that these things can be deadly weather events in and more than a few of our listeners have been very quick to say it was not a deadly event here in Halifax. Doreen did claim lives before it arrived here how much if any of the conversation during and after the storm turns to frequency NC of weather events like this and the discussion around climate change because I know that that happens in Toronto and other places when we see severe weather whether in climates midst and that discussion about what's impacted or influenced by humans. I don't think there's any question although at one point over over the the event we had someone who who tried to offer that we're not an ice age now but clearly hurricane one happened in two thousand three before that it was is the saxby gale in the late eighteenth century it had been many years since Halifax. It experienced anything of the intensity of one century more than a century. It's only it's been sixteen years since that event and there is a possibility that we will see an increased number of events like this of similar intensity. Perhaps even stronger I don't know that people are are connecting the dots right now today because if you've got a freezer you're full of food and your power still out. That's your number one concern. What is it like as someone who talks on the radio for a living to do an eleven hour shift like that and try to they keep things going. What's going through your head while you're trying to talk to other people survival in many ways? I'm not I'm not trying to be glazed but the idea that we we are a an opportunity for people to stay connected voice in the in the darkness of voice a just the connection to a human being alive person in who happens to be sitting in a in a room by themselves talking into a microphone. It was an amazing opportunity amazing experience for me to to see how responsive how much hunger there is an again no disrespect to what a podcast is what it's capable of but but but again to be on the air in the in the moment to have that media connection and I don't know Jordan you ever called somebody at a radio station Asian when you were a teenager to request a song or to to to hear share did a birthday wish for a friend those types of what some people would say small town radio radio but it's still the power of human voice and that's what podcast doing right now keeping that going the still place for live radio and I think the people who reached out to us in the in the hours during and sense to say thank you you kept me from from being afraid afraid of being alone by just simply talking to us. Thanks Shelton. Thank you Sheldon McLeod loud host of the Sheldon McLeod show news ninety five seven in Halifax Weekday afternoons or whenever there is a devastating hurricane on the way that was the big story for more from us. You can head to the big story podcast dot. Ca You can find us on twitter at the Big Story F. PM or as you always can at us up in your favorite podcast application Google Apple Stitcher spotify wherever thanks for listening. I'm Jordan Youth Rawlings. We'll talk tomorrow."