Weather woes
What residents do when they can't go outside

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Nunavut (Feb 16/00) - Nunavummiut know first-hand how great blizzard days can be.

When the Kitikmeot, Kivalliq and Qikiqtani (Baffin) regions experienced simultaneous blizzards last week, many people got to spend the day at home.

In Arviat, librarian Larry Kublutsiak said he passed the time last Tuesday reading Accidents by Danielle Steele.

"Usually during blizzards I can read one or two books," said Kublutsiak, who has spent all but one year living in the southern Kivalliq hamlet.

"Last week's blizzard was probably the worst one we've had all year, but I still came into work because I didn't have a good book to read at home."

It's OK for the librarian to have a quiet, snowy day surrounded by books, but Kublutsiak says he usually closes as soon as he knows a blizzard is coming.

"I'm usually closed before anyone has a chance to get over here. I try and plan ahead and be quick and prompt."

Kugluktuk Mayor Joanne Taptuna says it's the hamlet's duty to notify businesses in her community when it is time to lock up for the day.

"We've been going by the policy that if you can't see the house next door or across the street, it's time to shut down," said Taptuna.

"We then have to call all the other organizations in town and tell them that it's time to close."

They do, however, keep the water and sewer trucks on the road as long as the drivers can see the road.

"Last week we had a blizzard, but you could still see the road because it was during the day," said Taptuna.

"So far this year has been better than usual for blizzards, usually we've still been able to see a little bit."

And if you live in Cape Dorset and need supplies from the local Northern Store, chances are they will be open regardless of the weather conditions.

Store employee Barbara Ettinger says the staff houses are only a "stone's throw from the store" and a blizzard is really no reason to close.

"There's definitely a reduction in traffic, but you still get people dribbling and trickling in for things," she said.

"I can only remember one time that we closed and it wasn't even for a blizzard -- it was when we had the hurricane a couple of years ago."

Freezing rain and blowing winds made the roads treacherous and impassable, says Ettinger, but only a state of emergency can close them.