N.S. government concerned about thrill-seekers in wake of hurricane Bill

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia government officials will discuss ways to keep thrill-seekers from venturing perilously close to the coastline during storms, the province's minister responsible for emergency management said Monday, one day after hurricane Bill hit Atlantic Canada.
Ramona Jennex could not say whether measures might include fines for people who get too close to unpredictable shorelines despite repeated warnings, but she said something would have to be done.
"I was worried all day yesterday," Jennex said.
"It's my personal concern and the concern of (the Emergency Management Office) that we saw so many people near the shore and especially with the rogue waves ... we will be discussing that in the future."
Shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday, three teenagers were walking along the rocks at Peggy's Cove, N.S., when an errant wave whipped up by Bill's powerful winds knocked the group down. One of the young men was submerged in the churning sea before he was pulled to safety by his buddies as horrified onlookers watched.
In Maine, a seven-year-old girl died after she, her father and a 12-year-old girl were swept into the water at the Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park - an area where waves crash into a crevasse and make a thundering sound.
Bill was also blamed for the death of a 54-year-old swimmer who was washed ashore unconscious in New Smyrna Beach along the central Florida coast.
Cpl. Joe Taplin of the Nova Scotia RCMP said people didn't seem to realize the danger they were putting themselves in.
When police closed the access road to Peggy's Cove on Sunday morning, people parked their vehicles elsewhere and walked to the coast.
"It's just people not using common sense," said Taplin, who spent Sunday trolling the popular tourist spot and keeping people back.
"You just can't get down to the sea edge like that and expect a wayward wave not to come in and knock you off."
Taplin said officers are typically stationed along coastal areas during storms and aren't opposed to arresting bystanders for breaching the peace.
By mid-morning Monday, what was left of hurricane Bill had moved out to sea, leaving parts of Atlantic Canada wind-whipped and soaked in its wake.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre downgraded Bill from a tropical storm to a post-tropical storm as it grew weaker and moved away from the East Coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Storms become post-tropical when they lose most of their tropical characteristics, such as intense rainfalls and strong wind gusts.
Forecasters said Bill fluctuated between being a strong tropical storm and a hurricane when it made landfall overnight on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, packing winds of between 110 to 120 kilometres per hour.
A storm surge of 75 centimetres was reported along some coastal areas in the province.
RCMP said increased winds and tides resulted in some property damage on the peninsula, which is located in southern Newfoundland, but there were no injuries reported.
Cpl. Yvonne Walsh said there were no reports of people getting dangerously close to the coast.
"We had no problems," Walsh said from St. John's, N.L.
"I think the storm had lost a lot of its force by the time it struck Newfoundland ... and it hit late in the evening, as well."
After suspending its ferry service between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L., for 24 hours, Marine Atlantic said it would resume most sailings Monday morning.
But some crossings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday between North Sydney and Argentia, N.L., were cancelled.
Environment Canada said rainfall amounts in Newfoundland were in line with the amounts received Sunday in Nova Scotia, with many areas hit with between 50 and 60 millimetres.
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick also reported heavy rain and strong winds. The Northumberland-Miramichi coast of New Brunswick reported a storm surge of 70 cm.
In Nova Scotia, there were reports of localized flooding, downed trees and fallen branches strewn across roads, but the province's Emergency Management Office said the damage appeared minimal.

Organizations: Emergency Management Office, RCMP, Canadian Hurricane Centre Marine Atlantic Environment Canada

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland Maine Acadia National Park New Smyrna Beach Florida North Sydney East Coast Atlantic Ocean New Brunswick Southern Newfoundland St. John's Port aux Basques Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Mary
    January 18, 2010 - 10:15

    Sorry, it was a seven year old girl who died, not the 12 year old. Read it wrong!

  • Barbrady
    January 18, 2010 - 10:11

    Alright folks...move along ...nothing to see here

  • Sarah
    January 18, 2010 - 10:08

    I have to agree and defend Jon a little bit here. Yes, I think you're a lunatic but without lunatics like you, the majority of what we know about hurricanes, tornados, etc, would still be a mystery.

    Without the nuts who love the danger and experiences to put themselves at risk, especially in the name of science, we just wouldn't have the information or intelligence we have today.

    I almost think Jon may have a little more common sense than most thrill seekers. He seems to know his limits and the dangers involved, albeit one day, he may find himself over his head and in serious trouble.

    I think most people who get into this kind of trouble are just plain dumb and don't bother to think about the consequences or realize the situation as a whole, as Jon seems to do.

    Since you are such a thrill seeker and seem to have a lot of first-hand experience, Jon, perhaps you should enlist as a Ground Search and Rescuer. I'm sure your knowledge and experience could proove invaluable in such situations and you can be the first one in, getting your thrills and helping to save someone in trouble.

  • dave
    January 18, 2010 - 10:06

    big brother really has his fingers everywhere. if these people are idiots to put themselves in harms way - let them and let natural selection run it's course.

  • Mary
    January 18, 2010 - 09:56

    I think its up to the individual. If they want to go out and be put in danger, go to it! However, I have issues with parents who bring thier children out... the 12 year old girl that died was with her father... he should be charged, he put his child in an unsafe area and caused her death!
    Its fine if your an adult and make your own decisions but at 12, a child looks up to their parents, and as a parent its your job to keep them as safe as possible, not bring them out in a hurricane to a dangerous spot!

  • Jon
    January 18, 2010 - 09:55

    Emergency services are called out every single day to things such as auto accidents involving people who shouldn't be allowed behind a wheel, house fires resulting from hot grease left on a stove by people who should never have been allowed to own or live in a home by themselves, heart attack or stroke victims who lived a life of indulgence despite health warnings not to do so, and even domestic violence calls involving couples who've been repeatedly advised that they are not compatible.

    What makes the individuals involved in the above scenarios any more important than someone who is looking to satisfy an urge for adventure in a province that's so cash strapped and boring that often the only source of excitement in peoples' lives is via something that is free of charge?

    Serious question.

  • Responder
    January 18, 2010 - 09:51

    Jon, all of the other situations you list are dangerous yes, but they are situations that we as emergency responders can control and mitigate. We can stop traffic on the highway to deal with an MVC, we have protective clothing an breathing apparatus and hoses to deal with fire, giving someone CPR on their living room floor is hardly comparable to trying to STOP a hurricane in mid force to pull some sorry soul from the water, while not getting smashed on the rocks ourselves. Those are all accidents that happen. Preventable? Some certainly are. As you said yourself, some people should not be behind the wheel, granted. People have absolutely no business being on those rocks during a storm. If your life is so cash strapped and boring that you need to chase tornadoes and hurricanes for joy, I think perhaps you have bigger issues in your life to re-evaluate than going to watch the waves....Make changes there, and it will pay dividends elsewhere... I wish you the best of luck with that.

  • Responder
    January 18, 2010 - 09:50

    The idiocy of these thrill seekers is beyond comprehension. People die as a result of these storms and people seeking a front row seat. The flaw in your theory Jon is that emergency services are called in to pick up the shattered pieces at the bottom of a sky-dive gone awry, not during the midst of free-fall. The actions of stormchasers is that it puts other's lives at risk to save your hide when you get in over your head. They call emergency services to rescue these knuckleheads during the full fury of a storm, putting dozens of lives at risk to save one who by Darwinian logic should have removed from the gene pool years ago. Why should we as emergency responders put our lives at risk for someone elses lack of common sense. These are not accidents , these are fully preventable scenarios if people had any grey matter rattling around in their skulls. Be a thrill seeker! Sky dive, snorkel with sharks, stick your fingers through the fence at the bear cage, but don't expect us to jump with you. People have to realize their actions do not only impact themselves, they drastically impact others. Take off the blinders and stop being so selfish.

  • Jon
    January 18, 2010 - 09:48

    What ever happened to personal responsibility? The Western World is quickly becoming a collection of Nanny States and this is not what government is for. Thrillseeker is the key term here - some people are fascinated by these storms and I would bet a good piece of them are aware of the inherent dangers and accept them. The next thing you know they'll be wanting to do something about skydiving or rock climbing.

    Personally, I'm a storm nut - I absolutely love the power of big storms and often travel around to take it all in. I accept that I could die as a result, but I wouldn't have it any other way. A brush with danger allows a person to appreciate the forces we can't control. One of my dreams is to get frighteningly close to a Tornado - it's not because I'm stupid or crazy. It's because I'm fascinated.

    Start dealing with government issues and keep your hands off the people. The older I get, the more I feel like a child with the government as my parent.

  • Jon
    January 18, 2010 - 09:45

    Dear Responder,

    Thanks for your concern over my welfare and assumption that I have issues to deal with. Personally, I make good money and use that money to fund my adventures.

    I try to live every day full of excitement and have no shortage of public interest in the things I do. I put myself in situations that would make the average person turn white as a ghost and I am happy doing what I do. On more than one occasion I have experienced near-death and it doesn't turn me away.

    Why assume that someone who has a passion for danger has issues with their lives? I choose to get the most out of each day and when it's my time to go, it's my time to go.

    The irony is that, although I've never sought the help of an emergency responder, in most situations I could be involved in that may create a need for one I would still want to be the one calling shots. It would be ignorant to assume that we don't have members of the general public that are far more qualified to assess danger than any of our emergency responders. A book can teach you a lot, and so can a course, but living these dangers provides a far better education than any training course could ever provide.

    For what it's worth, I would absolutely love an opportunity to be part of a rescue team that was tasked with going into hurricane ripped waters to save someone. I could think of riskier things to do - and I am deathly afraid of water.

    Please don't say you think I'm alone in enjoying dangerous weather. There are millions of people just like me all across the world who live and breath this stuff.

    I'm not saying that we shouldn't educate people. What I'm saying is that there is a difference between ignorant, unaware individuals and those who are more than qualified to be taking whatever risks they so choose.

    I put my own life in my own hands, and I accept the risks I face. It is not uncommon for me to ponder something and decide it's too risky. It's being able to properly gauge that risk that is key, and you're right - some people just don't know.

    BTW Responder, I appreciate all you and yours do for the public. I would never downplay your difficult jobs and sincerely hope we never have to meet under more perilous circumstances. Keep up the good work you do and take care.

  • Sarah
    January 18, 2010 - 09:43

    OK Jon - you are a nut. However, you're right. The government can't regualte and control every aspect of our lives. If people are that stupid that they're going to go down to the shoreline in a storm, then whatever happens to them is their own fault. It's just plain stupid to do.
    And as far as the media contributing, they need to stop writing such things as Bill was blamed for the death of a 54-year old swimmer . Bill did not cause this man's death, his own stupidity for being in the water did. There's a reason we're told to stay away in powerful storms, a reason we're giving fair warning. This is why.

  • Responder
    January 18, 2010 - 09:41

    Granted, Jon seems to have his head on his shoulders a little straighter than most, and seems to have a degree of respect for the danger he is putting himself into. Please realize that if Jon or someone similar seeking the thrill, it's typically not for collection of scientific data, it is an adrenaline rush. And when they get in trouble, it is not Jon calling for help, (as he seems to have made peace with when its his time, its his time....) but some onlooker that sees the distress, and calls the cavalry, thus the endangerment still occurs to others by virtue of it. Unless he goes door to door before hand ensuring no one seeks out help if he gets in trouble.... I also would encourage Jon to look at joining a search and rescue or similar organization, though the emphasis there is typically to NOT put yourself in danger.... So it may not have the appeal. I certainly did not mean my comment to be a personal judgment on you Jon. I only used the same words you did to describe the reasoning for the actions. (cash strapped, bored etc..) If those were taken out of context, my apologies.

  • Jon
    January 18, 2010 - 09:39

    Is now a good time to mention that most of the risks I take are in the name of science?

    I do understand the multiple views on this issue and Responder does make some very good points.

    I simply live for adventure and I would very much feel bad if I were one of the ones who caused a stir only because people watching me weren't sure what I was up to.

    I will gladly take away the lessons I learned in this conversation. :)

  • Krista
    January 18, 2010 - 09:37

    If people lack the common sense to keep themselves out of danger after repeated warnings given, then let them reap the consequences.

    In other words, if you get swept to sea, don't expect others to risk their lives to rescue you!