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John Rossiter and Hurricane Juan in 2003
Hurricane Juan struck Nova Scotia and other parts of Atlantic Canada in late September 2003.  Juan made landfall in Halifax between Shad Bay and Prospect at 12:10 am on September 29.  It was a category 2 hurricane with sustained wind speed of 160 km per hour and estimated gusts as high as 230 km per hour. 

The hurricane inflicted extensive damage across central Nova Scotia, particularly to the urban area around Halifax Harbour.  Most of the damage occurred as a result of intense winds. Weather buoys at the entrance to Halifax Harbour snapped their moorings after recording waves higher than 20 meters.  There was extensive damage to trees, knocking down power lines and blocking streets.  In downtown Halifax, large boulders were hurled from the shoreline onto boardwalks, parking lots, and piers.  Dozens of vehicles were crushed by trees, rocks, and other debris.  The number of damaged trees across Nova Scotia was estimated to be in the millions; in Halifax alone, a million trees were downed.  A state of emergency was declared.  It was two weeks before electricity was restored to all customers.  Hurricane Juan caused $300 million of damage and resulted in six Nova Scotian fatalities.

John Michael Rossiter, a paramedic with Halifax Emergency Medical Care, was responding to calls, when, at 1 am, a large tree came down, flattening the back end of the ambulance.  He was killed instantly.  The tree was a mammoth 170-year-old elm tree at the Camp Hill cemetery, almost 2 meters wide and 20 meters tall.  John’s paramedic partner, Gilles Boudreau, was also in the ambulance at the time but escaped serious injury.   

A native of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, John had called his parents just hours before to let them know about the storm.  John was a member of the Local 42 of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, and had played a pivotal role in developing the first unionized contract for paramedics under one employer, Emergency Medical Care.  He had worked as a paramedic in the Halifax area for 10 years. 

 John Michael Rossiter, paramedic, union member, son, and brother, was killed in the early morning of Monday, September 29, 2003, at age 31, while on duty, when a mammoth tree was blown down during Hurricane Juan, crushing his ambulance.  A commemorative monument is located on Veteran’s Memorial Lane at Summer Street in Halifax.