As a strong weather system continues to bring wind gusts and heavy rainfall across most of the province, the Emergency Management Office (EMO) is reminding Nova Scotians to use extra caution to stay safe and be prepared for localized flooding and storm surges. As with any storm that produces wind gusts, power outages are also possible. Environment Canada is predicting the storm system will continue to move east across the province during the next 24 hours. As much as 100 millimetres of rain could fall in southwestern coastal areas, with winds gusting up to 90 km/h. Water levels along some coastal areas will be higher than normal with potential for storm surge. “I encourage people to be aware of the dangers presented by flooding and storm surges, especially in low-lying and coastal areas,” said Ramona Jennex, Minister for Emergency Management. “I urge them to take all appropriate steps to prepare and protect themselves.” The Emergency Management Office is monitoring the impact of the weather system, with assistance from partners, including Environment Canada and Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotia Power has had crews out overnight and today and is working to restore any power outages. While there were no reports of significant flooding as of early Friday afternoon, EMO regional officers are working closely with municipalities. EMO advises residents who live in areas prone to flooding to take appropriate precautions such as moving furniture and personal property away from possible flood water, and securing property that might be swept away or damaged by high winds or floods. In the event of a flood: Listen to the radio. Local authorities will issue instructions for those living in the affected areas. Know how to turn off water, gas and electricity in case you are instructed to by local officials. If the main power box is not in a dry, safe area, do not try to turn off electricity. Contact Nova Scotia Power at 428-6004 or 1-877-428-6004 for instructions. Ensure storm drains and gutters are free of debris. Have drinking water on hand in case the regular supply is unavailable or becomes contaminated. In flooded areas, do not use well water for drinking, cooking or bathing until the water has been tested and it has been deemed safe to use. Questions about safe drinking water can be directed to local environment offices at 1-877-936-8476 during regular business hours. For urgent environmental matters after hours call 1-800-565-1633. During storm surge, maintain a safe distance from the coast. Getting caught near the shoreline during a storm surge could be life-threatening. For more information on preparing for a flood, visit EMO’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/emo .
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are launching an emergency measles vaccination campaign that will aim to reach 125,000 children in the Central African Republic (CAR).The five-day campaign, which begins tomorrow, will take place in the conflict-hit Bangui, the country’s capital, after eight children tested positive for the disease last month.“Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children. Mass violence and armed conflict in CAR has left millions of people without access to basic health care, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk from a disease that can spread rapidly amongst deprived communities,” said UNICEF Representative Souleymane Diabate.Fighting flared up in CAR in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized Bangui in March forcing President François Bozizé to flee.The fighting has led to a breakdown of basic services and increased the risk of disease outbreaks in Bangui and across the country. This, along with poor living conditions, and a historically low vaccination rate for measles of 62 per cent, means that the lives of large numbers of children are now at risk from the disease, UNICEF said in a news release.The agency noted the campaign faces considerable challenges as secure humanitarian access to those in need remains difficult in CAR. In addition, many regions will be even harder to access as the rainy season sets in. “Wherever access permits, UNICEF is on the ground working with partners to deliver life-saving interventions. Our immediate priorities are to provide emergency response in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and to protect children from violence, separation and recruitment into armed groups,” said Mr. Diabate.In preparation for the campaign, 246,500 vaccines arrived in Bangui last Wednesday, including 100,000 vaccines purchased by funds donated by the airline easyJet. The vaccines will be used to respond to the measles outbreak in Bangui and to improve routine measles vaccination in high-risk regions of the country.Since the 24 March 2013 coup, UNICEF has provided direct support for emergency health activities at the four main hospitals in Bangui and health centres throughout the country, including emergency health supplies for up to 141,000 people over three months.