Domestic Ops

OP Recuperation – Ice Storm 1998

In January of 1998 a severe storm of freezing rain struck Ontario and Quebec. In areas 2 inches (50mm) of ice accumulated on power lines and trees. Power lines failed and power was lost to about 2 million people. Business were shut down and people were stranded in their homes.

The Brockville Rifles deployed on OP Recuperation with the Canadian Armed Forces. The Brockville Armoury became the headquarters for the main effort in the area.

On the 20th Anniversary of the event the Brockville Recorder and Times Collected stories from the people of the area, including one from Cpl Lloyd Baker, CD.

I am a member of The Brockville Rifles and that morning I was due to go in as we were doing equipment checks so I was up early. Looked out the window and realized there was no way I was going down in that mess so took my time getting ready for the day. Received a call from the Armoury asking if I wanted to assist since I had vehicle qualifications; this was before we were officially asked to assist by Ottawa.

As more Units showed up the Brocks lived in the Large Classroom, Medics were in the Small Classroom and everyone else was on the Main Floor and others were scattered about as well.

 One of the guys picked me up and drove me down and quickly got orders to assist delivering food prepared at TISS to the various senior facilities around town due to the capabilities of our vehicles. I got a chuckle when we delivered food to one facility and was chastised that we didn’t have coffee, but that was Day #1 and all we had was food and water; later on there was coffee. We did food delivery over the first couple of days then started driving around with water and other small items all around the area and just making sure residents were all right and took notes of any issues and reported back so these matters could be taken care of. The vehicles had to be packed inside as it was the only safe place to store them.
 
Teams went out and drove every road in Leeds & Grenville and visited every household. They took notes on everything along with conditions of power poles, flooding and handed out water and small snacks. All information was reported back at the end of the day.
 
The Armoury has a gas hot water boiler but there was no electricity soldiers were able to take hot showers but by flashlights or glow sticks. 
 
A number of weeks following the operation, a farmer showed up saying he was loaned a Military Generator and wondered if he could drop it off at the Armoury. The farmer picked up a few others generators and when he returned them to the Armoury there were 6 or 7 green military 2kW Generators.
 
We were constantly busy delivering food, assisting local agencies and pitching in where we could and lived in the Armoury for the duration, and as more military units arrived they either stayed in Brockville or were sent out to other towns to help.
 
By the end of it all we were thanked constantly wherever we went; a great sense of accomplishment.”
 
Cpl Lloyd Baker, CD
The Brockville Rifles (2)(3)
 

http://www.oocities.org/pentagon/2931/ftx_pu.htm

The Armoury in Brockville was used during OP Recuperation as a place to stay. At its height, almost 200 people were sleeping here. (1) 

County Rd 15 east of Brockville. Power lines are being strung by Hydro crews. Damage to the trees can be seen. (1)

 

The Griffin Helicopter, in heavy use throughout the Operation, flying into Brockville. (1)
The Field Kitchen on the left provided 3 meals a day for the 100+ people at the Armoury.
Dead cows. Carnage the result of the ice storm. M.C.P.L. Castillo (from Toronto, Fort York Armories) along with Toronto area reservists, 3 Section, 1 Platoon, Bravo COmpany survey dead cattle. Landsdonne, near Brockville. Contact Master Warrant Officer- M.G. McVey, CD (905) 451-5425. Photo by Cheryl Hnatiuk Processed: Saturday, January 17, 1998 2:16:53 PM

 


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Quote from Joe Jordan, MP for Leeds-Grenville, Ontario

 

“Mr. Speaker, as a representative of one of the areas hit hard by the recent ice storm, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding efforts of emergency services personnel, the firefighters who in Leeds—Grenville are largely volunteer, police, hospital staff, the Brockville Rifles, the local coast guard, municipal personnel and politicians, service clubs, local church congregations, CFJR radio station, local businesses, industries and government agencies, as well as countless volunteers and their families throughout Leeds—Grenville.

Although it is true we went without electricity, we were not however without power, the power of generosity, kindness, compassion, honesty, courage and community spirit. In Leeds—Grenville people pulled together to minimize the tragedies associated with this disaster.

If I seem to be holding my head a little higher it is because I have the tremendous honour of representing these people and their values in the 36th Parliament of Canada.”

References:

(1) Operation Recuperation, http://www.oocities.org/pentagon/2931/ftx_pu.htm

(2) Ice Storm memories, http://www.recorder.ca/2018/01/08/ice-storm-memories

(3) Interview with Cpl. Lloyd Baker, CD, January 6, 2018

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