‘Beast of a storm’

Ef­forts to as­sist those still with­out power con­tin­ued Tues­day

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE

SYD­NEY — On Tues­day, her third day with­out power, Marie McPher­son of Syd­ney needed only one word to de­scribe her sit­u­a­tion. "Hor­ri­ble."

"We’re sur­viv­ing,” she said, in the com­fort cen­tre at Cen­tre 200 in Syd­ney. “It’s just been a lot of bread, a lot of sand­wiches, a lot of crack­ers. I’m just dy­ing for a hot meal.”

It was about 9 p.m. Satur­day when McPher­son and her daugh­ter Jes­sica Het­rick lost their power due to high winds and rain. At the time, McPher­son had been head­ing to bed. Well pre­pared for the storm, she had ex­tra wa­ter and had also filled up ex­tra jugs and bot­tles and put them aside, along with snacks such as bread, peanut but­ter, sand­wich meat, cheese and crack­ers.

Tues­day was the first time she vis­ited a com­fort cen­tre, where she en­joyed soup and cof­fee with her daugh­ter. McPher­son didn't have any data on her iPhone and had been go­ing around to the free Wi-Fi spots, so she could get on the in­ter­net and get more in­for­ma­tion on what was go­ing on. In the process, she learned about the com­fort cen­tre.

Be­sides food, what she misses the most is sim­ple things such as the abil­ity to turn the ra­dio on for back­ground noise.

“It has been bor­ing sit­ting in si­lence,” she said, adding they’ve been pass­ing the time play­ing cards and Yahtzee and read­ing books.

Nova Sco­tia Power has in­formed her that her power would be re­stored some­time Tues­day evening.

“The first thing on her to do list? To have a hot cup of cof­fee and a hot meal.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Tues­day there were still 6,851 out­ages and 101,739 cus­tomers with­out power on main­land Nova Sco­tia and close to 19,000 in Cape Bre­ton.

in the mean­time, ef­forts to as­sist those with­out power were con­tin­u­ing Tues­day in­clud­ing with the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity open­ing some com­fort cen­tres again in­clud­ing at Cen­tre 200 in Syd­ney, pro­vid­ing hot soup and even ac­cess to show­ers. Jillian Moore, com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the CBRM, said com­fort cen­tres were also open Tues­day at the North Syd­ney Fire­men’s Club, Big Pond fire depart­ment and Gabarus fire depart­ment.

Moore said a com­fort cen­tre wasn’t opened in Glace Bay Tues­day be­cause no one at­tended it on Mon­day, usu­ally mean­ing power has been re­stored or peo­ple with­out power had help.

On Mon­day, 60 had at­tended a com­fort cen­tre in Gabarus, 40 in North Syd­ney, 25 in Big Pond, 10 at Cen­tre 200 and two in New Water­ford. Whether or not the cen­tres will be opened to­day wasn’t known Tues­day Af­ter­noon. Moore said it de­pends on ou­tage no­ti­fi­ca­tions, with the de­ci­sion to be made this morn­ing.

Power re­mained out for 244 homes in Ed­wardsville on Tues­day, in­clud­ing on the Rud­der­ham Road. Res­i­dent Shauna Au­coin said their power went out at about 9 a.m. Sun­day morn­ing. Au­coin said they have been cop­ing, with the hard­est part be­ing wor­ries about frozen food.

“It’s been most an­noy­ing with the fridge and freezer, “she said. “We lost a lot of food.”

On Mon­day they borrowed a gen­er­a­tor, so they could cook. Thank­ful it’s not win­ter and cold out­side, Au­coin misses hav­ing Wi-Fi and tele­vi­sion for the chil­dren. With school closed Mon­day and Tues­day, the kids have been hav­ing sleep­overs at friends' houses, she added. Nova Sco­tia Power pro­vided her with a restora­tion time of 11 p.m. Thurs­day. First on the list when power is re­stored?

“Get­ting more food and charg­ing de­vices,” she said.

Roscoe Rud­der­ham, also of Rud­der­ham Road, was with­out power for more than two days and was thank­ful to have it re­stored at 11:50 a.m. Mon­day.

“Try liv­ing in the dark,” he said. “You can’t do a lot of things, like make cof­fee.”

Rud­der­ham said even­tu­ally he put on his wood stove but it took three hours to get his cof­fee hot enough. With a huge ap­ple tree next to his house and branches hit­ting his house dur­ing the storm, the wind wor­ried him a bit, more so for his trailer at the side of the house.

Rud­der­ham lost the food he had in his deep freezer but when think­ing about the dev­as­ta­tion the Ba­hamas is fac­ing, con­sid­ered him­self lucky.

“Food is ex­pen­sive but it can be re­placed.”

In New Water­ford, Sharon DeGiobbi and hus­band Tommy lost their power at mid­night Satur­day and were grate­ful to see it re­stored at 9:10 a.m. Tues­day.

“I was in bed Satur­day watch­ing TV and it kept flick­ing and flick­ing and then it went out,” she said.

The scary part was live wires com­ing down, with one even scorch­ing a nearby ditch.

“It was mid­night which was good be­cause if any­one had of been in the yard, God for­bid.”

Al­though it wasn’t fun, she said it wasn’t as bad for them as it could have been as they had a gen­er­a­tor they were able to hook up to their freezer and fridge.

DeGiobbi said with the gen­er­a­tor they were also able to hook up their tele­vi­sion and in­ter­net, so they could see what was hap­pen­ing around them with the hur­ri­cane.

“We cooked on our bar­be­cue. Tommy made eggs and baloney and we even were able to make tea.”

In the mean­time, pub­lic works crews were still work­ing on re­mov­ing six to eight trees af­fect­ing road­ways in­clud­ing a tree block­ing Ar­gyle Street Tues­day.

Moore said peo­ple can take de­bris from yard col­lec­tions to the CBRM's solid waste land­fill in Syd­ney any­time. The solid waste depart­ment has de­pots set up in the yard col­lec­tion sites for Tues­day, Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, in North Syd­ney, Glace Bay and New Water­ford.

“We al­ways do ac­cept them at our solid waste fa­cil­ity on SPAR road but these are ex­tra sites."

An­drea An­der­son, com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Nova Sco­tia Power, said there were 369 teams of power line tech­ni­cians work­ing Tues­day, typ­i­cally in pairs, mean­ing more than 700 were work­ing on the out­ages. How­ever, she said, said that’s just their power line crews. There are hun­dreds of other peo­ple out there in­clud­ing 81 one-per­son crews strictly deal­ing with veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment, clear­ing out the tree de­bris.

In Cape Bre­ton there are 64 power line tech­ni­cian crews on the scene now — with two to a crew — and 21 crews with veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment.

In ad­di­tion, An­der­son said, through Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence they are also part­ner­ing with forestry man­age­ment folks.

Crews were sta­tioned across Nova Sco­tia in ad­vance of the storm, she said.

“We just wanted to make sure we were pre­pared when the storm struck,” she said. “When we re­al­ized how much dam­age it was go­ing to cost we reached out to ad­di­tional crews who have ar­rived in the prov­ince from as far away as Tampa (Florida).”

Crews were ex­pected to ar­rive in the prov­ince from New­found­land on Tues­day and NSP is also com­mu­ni­cat­ing with util­i­ties in Prince Ed­ward Is­land and New Brunswick.

“They are quite happy to come and help us. We have quite a nice part­ner­ship with our util­ity friends,” she said. “We just want as many re­sources as we can bear so we can get these last out­ages taken care of and cus­tomers re­lo­cated with their power as soon as pos­si­ble.”

As of Tues­day, most of their large in­fra­struc­ture dam­age had been re­paired and there were just a few tran­si­tions and other pieces of equip­ment in feeder sta­tions at sub­sta­tions they’ve been work­ing on.

An­der­son said they took the triage ap­proach and went af­ter the big pieces first.

“Now they are get­ting into the worst, some com­plex smaller out­ages that need to be man­aged over the next cou­ple of days. “

An­der­son said for Cape Bre­ton they are an­tic­i­pat­ing the power for most of the out­ages af­fect­ing 10-1,000 cus­tomers to have been re­stored by 11 p.m. Tues­day.

How­ever then there are tricky num­bers of onecus­tomer iso­lated out­ages, ex­pected to be re­stored by 11 p.m. Thurs­day.

“It was a beast of a storm,” she said. “It was wide­spread, it was west to east and it was the same thing ev­ery­where, the bro­ken limbs, the downed trees.”

An em­ployee of the Coal Min­ers Café in In­ver­ness said most of In­ver­ness lost power in­clud­ing the restau­rant. Parts of In­ver­ness came back — in­clud­ing the restau­rant — at 5 p.m. Mon­day. How­ever some on Banks Road area were not only with­out power but also wa­ter.

“A lot of trees down and sev­eral homes dam­aged but no one got hurt.,” said the em­ployee, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied.

“One woman — a tree landed on her house — had to be taken out through a win­dow.”

Duncan MacKin­non, owner of E.D MacKin­non Trucking Lim­ited, who lost power in his home and busi­ness, said some power was re­stored in In­ver­ness Mon­day night at about 6:30 p.m.

But MacKin­non wasn’t com­plain­ing. He said NSP was had been work­ing on get­ting power back up and run­ning for the se­niors home and for the hospi­tal.

Mon­day night MacKin­non re­ceived a call from Ves­tas Cana­dian Wind Tech­nolgy — who he does some work with — com­ing to the area from Hal­i­fax Tues­day.

“If we didn’t have power back in the town he was go­ing to bring a skid of wa­ter down,” he said. “He was go­ing to do­nate it, which was nice.”

Dean Ab­bass, gen­eral manager of Sea­side Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Syd­ney, said for the most part they fared rea­son­ably well through the storm, as com­pared to the main­land. Ab­bass said in gen­eral the storm caused sig­nif­i­cant power out­ages and they had a few third-party fi­bre breaks but the in­fra­struc­ture on the wired and wireless side held up pretty well.

“Most cases now, we’re wait­ing for NSP to get the power back on and then we’ll han­dle the small out­ages dis­guised by the power out­ages.”

Ab­bass said peo­ple with­out their ser­vice is mainly due to the power ou­tage or there’s another fac­tor be­sides that, such as a ca­ble break which they’ll try to get to over the next day or so.

“We’re look­ing at one or two days to be back to nor­mal, noth­ing much more than that.”

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Marie McPher­son of Ashby, left, and her daugh­ter Jes­sica Het­rick en­joy soup at the com­fort cen­tre set up at Cen­tre 200 in Syd­ney on Tues­day — their third day with­out power, fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion in­flicted by a post trop­i­cal storm on Satur­day. McPher­son de­scribed the past few days as "hor­ri­ble" As of Tues­day at 4:30 p.m., there were still 6,851 out­ages across Nova Sco­tia and 101,739 cus­tomers with­out power on the main­land and nearly 19,000 in Cape Bre­ton.

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Ni­cholas Au­coin, far left, 5, of Rud­der­ham Road, en­joys play­ing a game with, con­tin­u­ing from left, friend Carter Youden, of Ed­wardsville, cousin Abby Keats, 9, of Howie Cen­tre, and sis­ter Emily Au­coin, 9, in their yard. Into her fam­ily’s third day with­out power Tues­day, Au­coin said she misses tele­vi­sion the most. The fam­ily says they lost a lot of food from their re­frig­er­a­tor and freezer.

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