Military helps with storm recovery as many remain without power

The aftermath of Hurricane Dorian was felt all through the local area, and Port Hawkesbury was no exception. Military men and crews from Nova Scotia Power are seen here on Old Sydney Road Wednesday morning.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The cleanup of Hurricane Dorian continues.

As Nova Scotia Power and telecommunications companies like BellAliant and EastLink reconnected more customers on Wednesday, there were still many residents without power throughout Inverness, Richmond, Guysborough, and Antigonish counties.

On Tuesday of last week, Bell crews were on the scene in Port Hood.

Crews continue to deal with fallen trees, which have taken down power lines and broken poles, NSP said, noting that many of the repairs are complex. Damage includes an estimated 7,000 instances of lines broken by trees or with trees leaning on them, and 375 broken or leaning poles, the power company explained. Spokesperson Andrea Anderson confirmed to The Reporter there are still 54,005 customers without power.

While NSP said a majority of customers who lost power as a result of Dorian will be restored by end of day Wednesday, there remain complex outages that will take more time and effort to restore. Some single-customer outages now have an estimated restoration date of Thursday or Friday. Nova Scotia Power will be contacting customers who have had their restoration times changed.

“We know it has been frustrating for customers to be without power,” Hutt said. “We’ve mobilized the largest storm response in our company’s history, and the crews are making steady progress despite the many challenges. We won’t stop until the job is done.”  

Photos by Grant McDaniel — Nova Scotia Power crews had a massive amount of work on their plate as a result of Hurricane Dorian.

Also, users of municipal water systems in Whycocomagh and Mabou are still without water, while advisories have been sent to users of other municipal systems in Inverness County to conserve their water.

After staying at Category 1 strength for over 24 hours before it hit on September 7, Hurricane Dorian clocked winds at 100 miles per hour in some areas, bringing along with it dramatic tidal surges and driving rain.

While school resumed for most students in the Strait area Wednesday, classes were cancelled due to power and water issues for students at Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood, Dalbrae Academy in Mabou, as well as Felix Marchand Education Centre in Louisdale.

Corporal Craig Douma was one of the many Canadian soldiers on the ground following Hurricane Dorian. Douma said he and his fellow soldiers were happy to help the clean-up effort.

This week, the companies received some help in their efforts as Canadian Forces regular and reserve units were deployed from bases, including Port Hawkesbury.

Canadian Forces Lieutentant Commander Brian Owens said Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Organization (EMO) made a request to the federal government to approve the use of troops and the military would then be tasked by the EMO to assist.

“That request was done before Hurricane Dorian hit,” Lt. Cmdr. Owens explained. “So we were pre-prepared to be ready to assist as required.

“We had been in contact with the Emergency Measures Office off and on throughout the lead-up to the hurricane.”

From their Staking Base in Halifax, Lt. Cmdr. Owens said they supplemented the 250 Canadian Forces regulars with 174 reservists from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“They’ve been dispersed out as collective teams, with an engineering support regiment, to the different communities,” Lt. Cmdr. Owens noted.
The soldiers have been helping clear roads to allow emergency vehicles to pass and for Nova Scotia Power to restore power, Owens said. Their duties are decided by the province’s EMO, which receives specific requests from municipalities, private companies and federal and provincial agencies.

“A lot of it is tree clearance, cutting down those fallen trees, removing debris off streets, pushing them off so people can safely transit,” Lt. Cmdr. Owens stated.

The current force of approximately 450 soldiers includes engineers, people with different skills and trades and two helicopters. Lt. Cmdr. Owens said he is unaware of the timeline for their assistance.

Getting fallen trees off power lines was no small task following the major hurricane that visited Nova Scotia. The Canadian military assisted Nova Scotia Power crews all through the local area, including this spot on Old Sydney Road.

Nova Scotia Power has 368 power line crews, 81 forestry crews and 67 damage assessment teams dedicated to the restoration effort. This includes crews from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, Maine, and Florida. Additional resources arrive each day. In addition to help from the military, Nova Scotia Power is working with the Nova Scotia EMO to prioritize restoration to critical infrastructure.

“I can’t say enough about the support of our public safety and emergency response partners,” Hutt said. “As well, businesses large and small in communities throughout Nova Scotia have stepped up to help ensure our crews get fed – from the staff at the Snow Queen in Antigonish and various Sobeys and Superstore locations who’ve prepared boxed lunches for crews long before sunrise, to the Debert Hospitality Centre opening up Monday night to provide crews working in the area with late, end-of-shift dinner – the support has been overwhelming. So many, many Nova Scotians are pulling together to get through this.”

To help ensure power is restored as quickly as possible, customers should check to see if their meter mast is damaged. The meter mast is the piece of equipment that connects power from the lines on the street to a customer’s home. If the meter mast is damaged, it needs to be repaired before power can be restored. To find an electrician, call us at 1-877-428-6004 or visit www.nspower.ca/electricians.

Customers can stay up to date on estimated time of restoration via Nova Scotia Power’s outage map at: nspower.ca or call by calling 1-877-428-6004.

Trees were uprooted all through the local area like these on Old Sydney Road.