Information and referral organizations often have a role during a disaster. The role can vary depending on the location impacted or the phase of the disaster (response, relief, or recovery).
Our resource database includes organizations that provide services in times of disaster, and our objective is to update resources before an anticipated disaster and throughout the response, relief, and recovery periods as services change. Current disaster information in the resource database is essential for our Community Navigators to be able to effectively serve callers experiencing a crisis due to a disaster, or those who want to help.
Community Connection has documented plans that address incidents common to our area and help prepare our team for most typical emergencies. An emergency operations plan includes disaster preparations and response procedures for internal and external stakeholders and a business continuity plan guides our organization’s emergency preparedness and mitigation activities.
Over the years, we have established emergency response protocols with 33 municipalities (6 upper tier, 27 lower tier) and are included in emergency response plans. We also participate in municipal training and exercises.
Our disaster preparedness and response activities are reviewed as part of the re-accreditation process conducted by Inform USA, the leader behind delivering quality resource referral, navigation and connection services in the United States and Canada.
Since 2009, Community Connection has supported communities impacted by 24 disasters in the Central East region. Our activities can vary depending on the community, type of disaster, and severity.
Disaster Response Examples:
Grey Bruce Vaccine Line
In March 2021, Community Connection, a stakeholder in Grey and Bruce Counties’ emergency response plans, was asked to support Grey Bruce Public Health Unit with vaccination distribution by setting up and operating a vaccine information phone line. With limited resources available, our Executive Director (a Rotarian) contacted Rotary Clubs in Grey and Bruce, recruiting 20+ volunteers. The Rotarians were trained to use Community Connection’s phone system, downloaded on their home computers. A toll-free phone line was set up, and a Community Navigator was always available to support volunteers each shift. The line operated for 19 weeks, with volunteers answering 11,796 calls and contributing almost 1,800 service hours. Many callers provided positive and appreciative feedback, and the volunteers remained committed, engaged, and purposeful throughout their service.
In April 2019, the Town of Bracebridge activated its Emergency Plan. The Ministry of Natural Resources advised of rising water on lakes and rivers, and localized flooding was increasing in low-lying areas. Forecasted rain would have an impact on the extent of flooding. Fifteen local roads were closed due to washouts, and numerous others were flooded and being monitored. Motorists were advised to heed road closed signs and the danger of washouts. Property owners in adjacent low-lying areas were advised to take precautionary measures as water levels continued to rise. The Town provided sandbags free of charge for properties affected by flooding.
The Bracebridge Emergency Manager contacted Community Connection for assistance to register residents reporting as safe and identify vulnerable residents needing assistance. On April 24th, 211 was promoted to residents to call for non-emergency help and to call 911 for emergencies. Water levels continued to rise to record levels. On April 28th, the Canadian Armed Forces reservists arrived to fill and distribute sandbags and help authorities traverse impassable roads.
Over four weeks, 211 handled 268 calls related to the flooding in Bracebridge. Community Connection created online tools enabling the Town and Military personnel to access data input by our Community Navigators in real time. During the event, Community Connection registered 63 households for check-in calls, and seven who requested evacuations. Our team also registered 113 households for sandbag supplies and 31 households needing volunteers to help with sandbagging.
Community Connection was one of six organizations recognized personally by Prime Minister Trudeau for supporting the community in a private meeting.
Disaster and Emergency Networks
Bruce Grey Post-disaster Long-term Assistance Network
Community Connection is a member of a Bruce Grey multi-agency team that mobilizes resources during/after an event. The network is activated in response to events across both counties. The majority are house fires occurring in single and multi-tenant homes. This work is key to maintaining relationships and practicing processes should a major event impact the community.
Simcoe Muskoka Emergency Notification and Planning Committee
The County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit are designated agencies that may activate or terminate an Emergency Plan for Vulnerable Populations. Community Connection is one of nine organizations responsible for disseminating time-sensitive information to service providers supporting vulnerable populations. Communications are often warnings related to extreme cold and heat but can include air quality and water boiling notices.
Simcoe Emergency Response Committee
Community Connection is a member of a County of Simcoe led network of emergency management and emergency response personnel that fosters relationships and education in the field of emergency management and identifies issues requiring exploration and identifying new emergency management initiatives.