Operation Breakwater

As my thesis is about to wrap up over the next month, I’ll try to blog more often with more updates now that things are starting to come together. Our work in Little Anse was mentioned in the Cape Breton Post and Port Hawkesbury Reporter this past week! Cape Breton Post Article and Port Hawkesbury Reporter Article

We’re just over 2 weeks away from Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada (May 4-10) and I’m fortunate enough to be Isle Madame from April 29th till May 2nd to promote emergency preparedness in the region. The plan is for us to meet with local community partners the first day, followed by a tabletop exercise that I designed as part of my thesis research the second day and then a visit to a local school on the third day. The school visit will be part of the outreach initiative to promote the Canadian Red Cross, the 72 hour kit and to indirectly notify the parents of what emergency preparedness is.

Operation Breakwater, the exercise to be conducted on the second day, is a collaboration between the Canadian Red Cross Nova Scotia Region, the C-Change ICURA (International Community-University Research Alliance), and the Municipality of the County of Richmond (MCR). This blog post will mainly focus on the case of the breakwater failure in the Community of Little Anse in Isle Madame and the need for a tabletop exercise. I’ll update the blog again once we’re in Isle Madame.


Little Anse is a coastal community of approximately 125 inhabitants located on the eastern coast of Petit-de-Grat Island of the Isle Madame archipelago. Isle Madame is jurisdictionally a part of Richmond County, N.S. and therefore abides to the emergency response plan developed by Richmond County. Historically, the community is an important port for the cod fishing industry and other sea trades.

Little Anse bird's eye view from the north

Little Anse bird’s eye view from the north

Little Anse Community assets can be divided into 4 categories; economics, social, cultural and environmental. Economical assets include 2093m of road surface, 100 houses, 8 outbuildings, 45 wells and a 30m wharf. Variables that contribute to the social category of Little Anse include a church/community hall, community population with the majority of who are seniors, and a small youth population. Culturally the community is identified by its Acadian Catholic roots, and its historical dependence on the fishing industry. Petit-de-Grat Island, where Little Anse is situated, is abundant in natural capital with many trees, wetlands, lakes, and a rocky coastline.

The changing climate has caused an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events occurring along the Little Anse coastal area. Coastal communities are the first in line to face such a changing environment. Little Anse faces the threat of the main road flooding due to recent failure of the breakwater, destruction of the Little Anse wharf and cutting off access to the southern part of the community. Severe storms can cause surges that will damage coastal properties, flood houses, and damage the fresh water wells. Fallen trees due to strong winds can block roads and damage power lines. For these reasons, Little Anse proves to be a viable case study for the development of a tabletop exercise.


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