Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking from the traditional territory of the Mi'kmaq people, Abegweit. They are the past, present and future caretakers of these lands, and we honour them.
I am in downtown Charlottetown, one of the only places in the riding of Charlottetown that has power. I would try to speak from my home office, but the generator would probably drown me out.
I want to, first of all, thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for bringing forward the motion for this emergency debate tonight. It is timely, and I do think it is important for Canadians to hear from parliamentarians about the impact of this storm and the government's response to it.
The storm was not a surprise. All of the forecasts and warnings that came in advance turned out to be remarkably accurate. Prince Edward Islanders are quite accustomed to storms, more commonly winter storms, and all of the preparations were made. Generators were in place. The fuel for the generators had been purchased. There was a run on the grocery stores for storm chips and any other number of groceries. The shelves were quite bare in advance of the storm, without a doubt. Arrangements were made for emergency shelters. The level of preparation and information, all of these things, were accurate and well done.
What we did not anticipate, I would say, in Prince Edward Island and certainly in the Charlottetown riding, was that this would be pretty much exclusively a wind event. Rain was not a factor. Water has been a factor in coastal communities, and I say that not based on personal observation because the only personal observation I have been able to make is in my riding, but from relying on information received from other people. I say that because one of the major challenges in the last three days, since the storm hit, has been connectivity. Internet and cell service is spotty at best, which really affects absolutely everything. If one does not have information, it is difficult to know how to access the supports that are available.
We have heard from many other speakers this evening on the impacts of the storm in their communities, so much of what I am about to say will sound quite familiar. Because of the tremendous winds, the city of Charlottetown and much of Prince Edward Island are littered with fallen trees. These trees have fallen on power lines, which knocked out power to virtually the entire riding and the entire island. Bit by bit it is being restored, but not so much in Charlottetown, other than downtown, as of yet. Those trees have damaged roofs. In some cases, the winds have actually decimated roofs not that far from my home. Pieces of the roof of Queen Charlotte Intermediate School have flown for city blocks, and it is a very significant question as to when those junior high school students are going to be back in the classroom.
We have seen some substantial erosion, including a decimation of the dunes at Cavendish Beach. A famous and popular rock formation in Darnley is gone. Cars have been damaged, including one in my driveway. Wharves have sustained substantial damage in coastal communities, and there have been impacts in the agricultural sector, particularly with corn, and the storage facilities for potatoes and dairy. All of these sectors have been particularly hard hit.
As the storm has gone on, it has proven difficult to be able to recharge generators with propane or gas. Because of the lack of power, these things are not available. In my search for propane yesterday, I was absolutely heartened when the Confederation Bridge opened, and I know it is a bad word, but a convoy of electrical trucks came from out of province. I met them on the bypass. I was never so happy to see a convoy of people coming to do good.
This is also the case today with the arrival of the Canadian military. Two days ago, the Government of Prince Edward Island asked for federal help. One day ago, they got a yes, and today, the army arrived. That will be a major help in cleaning up the roads and getting the trees off of the power lines.
I want to talk for a minute about the mindset of the people in this city and this province. The picture of devastation that I just presented might lead people to believe there is despair here. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a lot of shock and awe about the magnitude of the winds and about the magnitude of the devastation. We knew it was coming, but many people have never seen what we see in our streets even now.
The mindset is one very much of determination and of resolve. The mindset is that we are going to roll up our sleeves. We have trust and faith in one another, and I have to say that we have trust and faith in Maritime Electric. Time and time again when we have been battered by winter storms, we receive on Prince Edward Island timely and reliable information from Maritime Electric with regard to the progress that is being made by the hard-working crews at Maritime Electric and the status of their work. That has already begun. Kim Griffin, the spokesperson for Maritime Electric, has become a well-known face to Prince Edward Islanders for the updates in these critical situations. That is the case now.
When we have gone around Charlottetown over the last couple of days, the sound of generators and chainsaws is predominant essentially everywhere.
I have been heartened by the involvement of the cabinet. The Minister of Emergency Preparedness and the Prime Minister have listened to us. They have been in contact with us. It is evident that they care. It is evident that the information they are receiving from us is factored into the actions that they are taking. It is also important to focus on the other measures that have been taken by the government, specifically the decision to match donations made to the Red Cross.
I want to offer a big thanks to the workers at the Jack Blanchard Family Centre, the Malcolm J. Darrach Community Centre, the Community Outreach Centre, the Confederation Centre of the Arts and the Hillsborough Park Community Centre for the work they are doing in helping those who need emergency shelter.
I want to finish with a final word of advice to the people in the insurance industry. During my time practising law, I was on both sides of the insurance industry. To the case managers and adjusters within the insurance industry, I would ask them in the coming days to please act with urgency and act with compassion and to put their policyholders ahead of their shareholders.