The weekend visit from Arthur packed quite a wallop. It left the Island with downed trees, sunken boats, and some power outages, but in comparison to our Maritime neighbours, we weathered the storm rather well.
Perhaps the most widespread damage was to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. The storm kept away the two main acts – Blake Shelton and Darius Rucker – and shut down the Saturday performances.
The storm also created a rough night for thousands of campers. For those in RVs, it wasn’t so bad. But those country music fans who only brought along a tent as a means of accommodations, must have suffered a rather harrowing night – unless they were able to find alternative shelter.
The chairman of the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership believes shelters should have been offered to those staying in tents Saturday night. Bob Boyle, who runs a drive-in and hotel in Brackley, expressed concern that these people were left “vulnerable” to harm from severe weather conditions that included winds peaking at over 100 km/h. Boyle says that as hosts of the country music festival, the province has to take some responsibility to ensure our guests’ safety.
Although providing shelter to campers during extreme weather conditions would be nice, it would be a difficult thing to co-ordinate. How would you get the word out to all the campers affected?
It would require a full-scale team effort to arrange for shelters for thousands of campers and get them there.
A Red Cross representative said there was a plan in place, worked out with the Emergency Operations Centre, and they had volunteers across Atlantic Canada on standby. However she pointed out that it is the responsibility of municipalities to put this plan into action.
There are shelters across the Island that can be used in emergencies, such as community halls, schools and arenas, but the Cavendish municipality obviously didn’t see the need to open up shelters to campers.
Some of the onus has to fall on the owners of the private campgrounds to ensure the safety of their campers. If they take their money, they should be obligated to do whatever they can to see the tenters are provided safe shelter during violent storms.
The campers themselves must also bear some of the responsibility. This storm should not have been a surprise to anyone. Arthur brought the winds and rains that the forecasters warned us about. If those who prefer roughing it decided they could tent in a tropical storm, well that was their choice.
P.E.I. is welcoming and accommodating, but within reason.