Rescue board leaders: Storm information available, not always used

Suud puhtaks panel discussion show Tuesday evening.
Suud puhtaks panel discussion show Tuesday evening. Source: EE

Lessons learned from the storm of Sunday, Oct. 26 were on the table on Tuesday evening's edition of discussion program Suud puhtaks, broadcast on ETV.

Head of the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) Kuno Tammearu denied that his organization had skimped on providing information on what to do in the aftermath of the storm, which cut off well over 60,000 households from power for several hours, or several days in a minority of cases, as well as taking out an electricity substation. One life was also lost in the storms.

Others on the panel-format program noted the importance of consolidated, easy-access media channels where the right information could be got at easily.

Kuno Tammearu said crisis information has been sent to people, but the problem was more one of taking the matter seriously.

"In fact, very often the main problem is that people do not believe that a crisis is coming, and think that someone is ready somewhere to come to their aid when there is a crisis situation," Tammearu said.

"In fact, people have to be better prepared, with a radio, food and drink supplies, all of that to hand," Tammearu added.

A concrete example of how to do it was the town of Võru in South Estonia. Võru in fact had a total power cut for a few hours on the Sunday, before connections were restored, focusing on life-or-death institutions like hospitals.

Mayor of the town, Anti Allas, appearing on the show said a crisis committee was convened, hospitals kept in the loop and contact made with public broadcaster ERR to get as much information out there as possible.

ERR correspondent Mirjam Mõttus argued that the broadcaster should always be the first port of call as a more effective way of dispersing information in crisis aftermath, than social media.

Businessman Sven Jablonski said that social media was actually a good medium when communications were up and running, though noted a 'one-stop-shop' site for all critical information was needed rather than having it spread over several sources.

Naturally online communication relies on at least some power supply remaining in action, as well as mobile communications – at least one major provider had a blackout and/or spotty reception following Sunday's storm.

Echoing comments from the Rescue Board's chief, Margo Klaos, head of the South District rescue center said the authority had actually released more information following the storm than had been claimed in the media.

"Actually, we sent out two important messages. First, the very danger of being outside; there's a storm, so don't go out and avoid driving as well," Klaos said.

"We also noted people should b prepared for a power outage. This is the message that we got out there. How fast and to what extent that reaches the public, everybody, is a separate issue," she continued, noting that an SMS (text message) system would be best for doing this, and should be operational by 2022.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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