HANTS COUNTY, N.S. — A winter storm hit Nova Scotia much harder than many weather forecasters predicted March 9.
RCMP officers, first responders, tow truck drivers and snowplow operators were all kept busy as the road conditions continued to deteriorate as the storm progressed.
The Brooklyn Fire Department was one of many volunteer fire departments that were kept on the go. The firefighters responded to multiple calls, starting at 3 a.m. with a medical and ending around midnight with a mutual aid request to Rawdon for powerlines arcing in Greenfield.
Andy McDade, Brooklyn’s fire chief, said they responded for 14 calls for assistance within a two-day period.
“It’s been pretty crazy for a couple of days,” said McDade.
Many of those calls occurred March 9. From suppertime onwards, motorists found themselves sliding off the road and powerlines began arcing under the weight of the snow.
At 6:20 p.m., Brooklyn and Hantsport firefighters responded to a motor vehicle accident on Highway 101 near Exit 7: Falmouth. While attending that call, a tractor trailer went off the road in Sweets Corner, tying up traffic along Wentworth Road for more than four hours.
“An 18-wheeler was on its side. That was a very daunting task,” said McDade.
It took two tow trucks to get the vehicle out of the ditch.
“Where it went off, he came to rest up against a power pole and it was in a swampy area, so it was really stuck in there,” said McDade, praising the towing company for their efforts.
“It was very time consuming. We were there until close to 11:30 p.m.”
While that situation was being looked after, other Brooklyn firefighters were responding to a host of other calls, including powerlines arcing along the Windsor Back Road, Pellow Road, in Centre Burlington and Wentworth Creek.
Paul Maynard, a deputy chief in Hantsport, said they thankfully didn’t receive any calls for downed powerlines or blown transformers, but they did spend about four hours around suppertime helping motorists who went off the road.
Maynard said they responded to two calls along Highway 1 in Hants Border and Lockhartville and four calls on Highway 101 although only three motor vehicle accidents were located.
“No injuries; most were minor to moderate damage to the vehicles and just required a tow truck more than anything,” said Maynard.
With another winter storm on the horizon, both Maynard and McDade said people need to reconsider if they have to be out on the roads.
“Because the weather has been so good this winter, a lot of people forget their winter driving habits. (I’d like) to just remind people that we probably still have a few more weeks of potential weather like this,” said Maynard, adding he’s heard some drivers have already switched to summer tires.
“People need to start looking at where they need to go and if it’s that important,” said McDade. “You’ve got to start considering your family and other people that are out there on the roads.”
Both longtime firefighters said some people are still not reducing their speeds when they pass by emergency scenes, and that’s worrisome for the volunteers.
“It’s still very problematic for us out there,” said Maynard.
“It only takes a split second to lose control on an icy road and slam into an accident scene where your first responders are working.”
McDade shared a similar sentiment.
“We’re all busy and we all have to be places but people have to slow down and drive for the road conditions because they certainly haven’t been in the last little bit,” said McDade.
“People are busy and always in a hurry… It’s a grave safety hazard when they’re driving on the roads like that.”