SHELBURNE, Ontario » During the night of 1 December, 2006, while the residents of Shelburne slept, little did they know of the events that would be shaping the following day. A wintry blast of freezing rain, snow and high winds brought down trees and hydro poles leaving hundreds of people in the dark around their town.
While the storm was battering Shelburne, some 95 kilometres away soldiers from 32 Canadian Brigade Group (32 CBG) were preparing their kit and vehicles to deploy on Ex STEADFAST RESPONSE to what should have been a sleepy quiet little town.
When the soldiers from 32 CBG arrived in Shelburne, they were greeted by broken trees, downed hydro lines, blank traffic lights and citizens out cleaning up after the storm. A stretch of some 20 broken hydro poles on the outskirts of town created a very dangerous stretch of road.
The Ontario Provincial Police asked the military for assistance in controlling access to these roadways. While the Military Police manned the vehicle control point, engineers from 32 CBG lent some muscle and their chainsaw skills in aid of the cleanup of downed trees around the area. Later in the day, some members went door to door delivering flyers for the town and also keeping an eye out for anyone in need of assistance.
Later, at a short presentation ceremony at the local rink, Colonel Gerry Mann commander of 32 CBG presented Mayor Ed Crewson with some small gifts for his support in having the soldiers in his town for the weekend. But it was the Mayor who was truly appreciative and commented "We thank the Department of National Defence for coming to our aid in an emergency and crisis."
Of course, while all this was going on, the soldiers of 32 Brigade who where not involved in the clean up were busy with Ex STEADFAST RESPONSE. Some of the ongoing activities involved a field medical facility, a reverse osmosis water purification unit, vehicle checkpoints, cordon and search activities and soldiers out walking around the town conducting presence patrols.
Article by Sgt Brad Phillips, a reporter for Army News.