Get­ting Gordie one step closer to home

Port Lorne com­mu­nity gives back to re­tired fish­er­man af­ter house fire

Annapolis Valley Register - - COVER STORY - BY MARILYNN LINLEY

One of­ten hears story af­ter story of bad news some­where in the world.

But ev­ery now and again, a good news story ap­pears that re­as­sures us that hu­man be­ings are still look­ing out for one an­other.

Port Lorne is a tiny vil­lage on the Bay of Fundy where neigh­bours care about one an­other and reach out to of­fer a help­ing hand when needed. This was the case re­cently when a lo­cal re­tired fish­er­man had the mis­for­tune of a house fire May 19.

Gor­don Mitchell tried valiantly to ex­tin­guish the flames in the sec­ond level of his home be­fore lo­cal fire­fight­ers ar­rived. But, it was neigh­bour Elmer Lewis who found Mitchell un­con­scious at the bot­tom of the stair­case and hauled him from the burn­ing build­ing to safety.

With burns to the face, arms and esoph­a­gus, Mitchell was quickly trans­ported to Sol­diers Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance, and then air­lifted to Hal­i­fax where he was treated in the burn unit and later un­der­went surgery.

For­tu­nately, Port Lorne’s lo­cal vol­un­teer fire depart­ment was able to bring the fire un­der con­trol and saved Mitchell’s home. Af­ter leav­ing the hos­pi­tal, Mitchell boarded with next door neigh­bour Betty Hick­man while he was re­cov­er­ing. Although one could not ask for a kinder friend and more won­der­ful cook than her, he longed for his own house.

Dur­ing day­time hours he could be found re­cov­er­ing what he could from the smoke and wa­ter-dam­aged main floor and re­mov­ing de­bris from his home. No longer able to work as a fish­er­man due to arthri­tis and other health prob­lems, he laboured with one arm in a sling, never com­plain­ing.

It was time for the com­mu­nity to step in to help with a ren­o­va­tion and build­ing project - and on Sept. 15 a vol­un­teer group com­prised mostly of se­niors went to work.

Lunch was sup­plied by the ladies of the vil­lage. Tack­ling the end win­dows on the sec­ond floor that had been blown out by the fire was no easy task with lots of hard work tear­ing out the old frames and burnt wood, but the men did a great job. No rain or snow will get in those win­dows now.

With lots of work for the vol­un­teer crew yet to fin­ish on the badly dam­aged sec­ond level in­te­rior, Mitchell knows his home will once again be com­fort­able. Still able to smile and never com­plain­ing, he is grate­ful to his friends near and far who have come out to help. A crew from nearby Bridgetown is ex­pected to re­pair the roof so all will be wa­ter­tight be­fore win­ter.

The tide still comes in twice a day in Port Lorne, just as grad­u­ally Mitchell is get­ting his home back.

Com­monly known as Gordie, the re­tired fish­er­man en­joys mak­ing his own home­made pick­les and telling sto­ries. He is known to his friends as a man who would do any­thing for any­one. Now the com­mu­nity is giv­ing back to him.

How to help

Although do­na­tions have come in, fundrais­ing con­tin­ues as much re­mains to be done to the in­te­rior of the home. Those wish­ing to help may do­nate by con­tact­ing the Port Lorne United Bap­tist Church in care of trea­surer, Bill Linley, at 902584-3003.


A work crew com­prised of vol­un­teers met at the home of re­tired fish­er­man Gor­don Mitchell in Port Lorne ear­lier this month to re­pair some of the dam­age done by a danger­ous and de­struc­tive fire that broke out May 19.


Gor­don Mitchell, left, joins some friends in break­ing for lunch dur­ing a com­mu­nity work day planned to help him get back in his house fol­low­ing a de­struc­tive fire in May.

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