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Winter wind storm took toll in Shelburne County

Waves washed over the Cape Sable Island Causeway during a severe wind storm on Christmas Day, making driving conditions hazardous. KATHY JOHNSON
Waves washed over the Cape Sable Island Causeway during a severe wind storm on Christmas Day, making driving conditions hazardous. KATHY JOHNSON

Hurricane-force winds on Christmas Day that knocked out power to thousands of residents, followed by four days of snow, blizzard-like conditions and Arctic air made for a long week for many Shelburne County residents.

The wind storm uprooted trees, downed power lines and power poles, damaged roofs and siding across the county while pounding waves washed over coastal roads, including the Cape Sable Island Causeway, making driving conditions hazardous, and did damage to local wharves.

Some county residents didn’t have power restored until late in the day Dec. 28.

“There are still 322 customers in our area without power as of 10 a.m. this morning,” said Dick Crowell, spokesperson for Barrington Clark’s Harbour EMO.

Part of the problem with getting power restored to some customers was damage to the power line going to the property or the service pole, which had to be fixed by an electrician before it could be reconnected, said Crowell. “I give credit to Nova Scotia Power crews. The conditions they had to work in were terrible.”

Fire departments across the county were also kept busy responding to fire calls for arcing and downed power lines, car accidents and three structure fires.

Crowell said EMO opened warming centres in Port Clyde, at the Barrington Ground Search and Rescue building and Island Barrington Passage Fire Hall to give residents without power a place to go but there were no takers.

“Our assumption is they were looked after by family and friends,” said Crowell. “We don’t really know because we didn’t see them. Basically, as a community everybody must have looked after each other pretty well. Our concern is anybody that might have fell through the cracks. We had one 98-year-old that we looked after personally. He was having issues. We got him to hospital, they looked after him and sent him home.”

The Shelburne County East EMO (SCEEMO) also had their comfort centre open at the community centre in Shelburne on Dec. 25, 26 and 27, said EMO coordinator Mike Shand, with about 25 people taking advantage of the facility on Christmas Day and about 20 or so on Boxing Day. The comfort centre was closed down on Dec. 27 after no one attended, said Shand, noting Nova Scotia Power also had their facility on the Ohio Road open as a comfort centre during the power outage.

Damage-wise, it was mostly uprooted trees, said Crowell. “There was no flooding. At the height of the storm, we had three poles came down in the six harbours we (the Harbour Authority of Cape Sable Island) look after. We have a floating wharf in Newellton that was twisted pretty badly that we’ve been working on repairing the last few days. Overall nobody was injured that I’m aware of. I think we fared out pretty good. It could have been worse if we had had the highest of tides. Then it would have been a problem.”

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