THUNDER BAY -- The consequences of climate change on people and communities can sometimes rear its ugly head.
Amy Freeze knows that all too well. A meteorologist at WABC-TV in New York City, she won an Emmy for her coverage of superstorm Sandy, which caused $65 billion in damage in 2012.
While her city dealt with the wreckage, water that filled its sewers and subways eventually forced its rat population to the surface, causing a whole new set of problems.
"These are some of the impacts that storms can have that may not be top of mind right away," she said.
As climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent and severe, Freeze wants communities and people to try and predict the future and be more prepared. It's the reason she's in Thunder Bay as a keynote speaker as more than 100 mayors from Canada and the U.S. meet for the three-day Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
"We don't have to know all the right answers we only have to ask the right questions," she said Wednesday afternoon at Prince Arthur's landing as the conference kicked off.
Mayor Keith Hobbs, who has been chair of the initiative over the past year, said climate change has already had an huge impact on the city.
"We saw that first-hand during the flooding of 2012," he said.
It's one of several topics on tap during the conference. Invasive species, especially Asian carp, remains top of mind. As always humans make that list as well.
Like many cities around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, Thunder Bay is looking to ban microplastics. Otherwise known as microbeads, they're used in everything from toothpastes to face scrubs. And they can wreak havoc on marine ecosystems.
"We're taking on those big corporations that put microplastics in their products," he said.
The city is also looking to get rid of plastic water bottles, that's why the initiative's legacy project for Thunder Bay is a water filling station, unveiled at the waterfront Wednesday.
Hobbs said the initiative is all about making sure the waters are protected and making sure senior levels of government know. Municipalities are often on the frontlines of the issues around the Great Lakes.
"We see the erosion of our waterfronts and we see the pollution in our waters," he said.