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211 Central East Ontario Meaford Water Emergency – July 22nd, 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Water Main Break In the early morning of Monday July 22nd 2013, a major break occurred in the main feeder line which supplies water to all residents in the urban area of Meaford, Ontario. Meaford has a population of about 11,000 residents is located within the County of Grey on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. Residents were without water for most of the day July 22nd. On July 23rd, further repairs were required on the water main. Although households had water by the evening July 22nd, the Municipality requested that residents limit water usage to emergency purposes only until the repair was completed late July 23rd. By 4pm July 23rd residents were cleared to resume using water as normal with the exception of the ingestion of the water. The Grey Bruce Health Unit issued a boil water advisory for tap water which lasted from July 22nd until late afternoon Friday July 26th. A drinking water distribution centre was set up from 8am till 8pm during the week at the Meaford and St. Vincent Community Centre. Water bottles were given out or the public could bring containers to fill from a water trailer. Portable toilets were set up at the Community Centre and the Meaford Municipal office.

Role of 211 The Town of Meaford involved Community Connection/211 Central East Ontario immediately following the event. On July 22nd before 8am, The Municipality of Meaford put on their messaging system to call 211 for information regarding the water main break. The first call to 211 came at 8:05am on July 22nd from a resident of Meaford inquiring about the water outage. Information Specialists on the 211 lines continued to provide information to callers from Meaford with the latest up-to-date information throughout the week. 211 received a total of 277 calls during the seven days following the event.

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Calls to 211 from Meaford Residents & Businesses July 22nd to July 29th 2013

The total calls received in the seven days between July 22nd and July 29th related to the emergency were 277. There were 62 calls in the first 24 hours. During the summer months, the Meaford municipal office hours are Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4pm. Utilizing 211 enabled the Municipality to offer residents access to information on a 24/7 basis. A total of 60 calls were received from Meaford residents after hours. The day with the highest number of calls was Friday July 26th, when concerned residents were inquiring regarding timelines for the boil water advisory. 211 answered 106 calls in 24 hours. 211 helped divert the unusually high volume of calls away from the switchboards at the Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Meaford Municipal Office, freeing their staff to focus on service delivery. In a typical week, Community Connection’ s staff respond to an average of 1,200 calls on the 211 telephone lines. The additional calls were easily handled thanks to the strong communication support from Rob Armstrong at the Town of Meaford.

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Why People Called 211 The following is a list of the different kinds of questions responded to by 211 staff:                 

When would the water main be repaired? How long will I be without water? What happened? Businesses asking if they should stay open for the day (Monday), also if they should open on Tuesday? Is it safe to drink the water? Can I do laundry? Have a shower? Will you deliver water from the water distribution site for a senior? What do I do if I don’t have a container to bring to the distribution centre? How many days will the advisory be in effect? On Monday, I was told 3 days, so now why is it 6 days? Restaurants, salons, hair dressers, day care, and other businesses wanting to know if they could use the water for their customers? I have a 7 month old baby, can I bathe him? Is it safe to wash vegetables? How do I do my dishes? How will we know when the boil water advisory is lifted? Can I water my lawn? How long to I boil water for?

Communications All communications to Community Connection/211 came from the Director of Planning and Building with the Municipality of Meaford, (email updates, links to municipal press releases & media articles). During the week, Community Connection received 8 media releases and multiple emails related to the water situation in Meaford. On the one occasion when the Municipality was having internet problems, the lead contact from the Municipality called 211 directly to provide the latest update and also to inform that their email was temporarily out of service. Community Connection staff continued to monitor the municipal website, municipal Facebook page, the Grey Bruce Health Unit website, and Owen Sound radio stations websites for updates. 211 was noted as the public inquiry line on every Meaford news release, the Meaford website, the Owen Sound radio station website new items, and the Meaford newspaper online news items. Also, there was a sign in front of the Meaford municipal office advising residents to call 211 for updates. The Grey Bruce Health Unit provided links back to the Meaford Municipality website. Disaster Database The Community Connection data resources team continually updated information resources to ensure Information Specialists had the most up-to-date information at their fingertips. This included the latest updates on the water main repair, boil water advisory, as well as locations for the water distribution sites, portable toilets and quick links to the Boil Water Advisory Fact Sheet on the Health Unit’s website.

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Sample Municipal News Releases

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Sample Media Coverage – Owen Sound Sun Times

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Town of Meaford Water Emergency – July 2013 Post Disaster Response Brief Backgrounder 211 Services Every Day 211 is an easy to remember three digit telephone number now available to all of Ontario, and expanding across Canada and the United States. 211 is a helpline that simplifies finding support and community services for Ontario residents. 211 service providers help people find basic needs such as food, housing and emergency financial assistance. It connects those in need with agencies who can help someone cope with health issues like cancer or elderly citizens stay in their own homes. 211 also supports staff and volunteers at agencies who are in need of information about community services for their clients. When you dial 211, you reach a real person, 24/7, who is highly trained to listen and help. 211 offers multilingual service in 170 languages as well as TTY service and is available online at In Ontario, seven regional service providers are contracted to provide 211 services. Community Connection in Collingwood Ontario serves the Central East Region of Ontario which includes more than one hundred municipalities within the Counties of Bruce, Grey, Perth, Huron, Simcoe, Muskoka, Parry Sound, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Northumberland – a population of 1.2 million people. 211 Services During Emergencies In addition to being available every day, 211 service providers have demonstrated the ability to support members of the public, emergency responders, municipalities and other non-government organizations during and following an emergency incident as part of the non-emergency communication system. Following the Goderich Tornado in 2011, Community Connection’s 211 lines supported thousands of calls, and supported the emergency response effort with volunteer registration; donations management and helping residents find services during many weeks of chaos. In other areas of the province, 211 service providers have provided assistance after the SARS outbreak, major fires, floods, wind storms, and even Hurricane Sandy. Visit to access reports and more information or contact: Pamela Hillier, Executive Director Community Connection/211 Central East Ontario 275 First Street, Box 683, Collingwood, ON L9Y 4E8 705.444.0040 x 234

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In Ontario: 211 Service – Every Day and During Emergency Response and Recovery Preamble The 211 information and referral service is standards driven. Providers of 211 services are accredited by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS). The goal is for 211 to be the first and best place for everyone in Ontario to find, connect to and communicate with human services by phone and online. In the event of an incident, 211 service is available as a public information line and to complement the community’s existing capacity. Public Inquiry • 211 service organizations provide and receive information • 211 is an easy to remember phone number for live answer, multilingual information and referral about community, health and social services 24/7/365 • The assessment and referrals provided to residents and service providers is confidential, and can help people find services they didn’t know existed or are more appropriate for their circumstance • Includes TTY and email channels • Monitors news and social media and posts facts or notices to call 211 or visit specified websites for information and rumour control • Develops and retains relationships with municipal and other social services including those that respond to incidents including local branches of Red Cross, Victim Services, Salvation Army, St John Ambulance and the SPCA to complement their services • Able to establish a public access point in reception and/or evacuation centres to provide in-person information and/or referrals to both residents and service providers Specialized Online Database • 211 service providers collectively maintain a comprehensive, current database of 56,000 human services agencies and programs • 211 providers maintain local inventories of disaster services and information that is continually updated throughout the recovery period after an incident • Able to deploy local information websites for public to access in real-time, for current information about post incident services including shelters, food and meals, schools, halls, pharmacies, banks and cash machines, laundromats, etc. • Collects pre-determined or customized details about people who want to volunteer, including their skills and equipment, following an incident, making the information available in real-time to designated contacts or organizations utilizing volunteers. Works with volunteer centres where they exist to provide volunteer brokerage services when directed •Collects pre-determined or customized details about goods and services donated by individuals, governments, businesses or organizations and makes information available in real-time to designated contacts or provides goods and services brokerage services when directed • Maintains up-to-date lists of where and how cash donations can be made • Able to support case management for vulnerable population fan out procedures working with agencies such as Public Health, CCACs and/or Mental Health Services to support the creation of an inventory of people facing mobility barriers, are isolated or need key health services such as dialysis Caller Needs and Trends Reporting • Using predetermined or customized collection details, 211 providers monitor calls, TTY, social media and email contacts to track changing service needs, unmet needs, service gaps and trends • 211 providers can produce real-time and/or after-action reports with aggregated data to support information useful to municipalities and other levels of government Contact: Pamela Hillier, Executive Director, Community Connection/211 Central East Ontario

Meaford water emergency 211 post disaster brief  
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