Restoration, repairs enter second week in Cape Breton, northeast N.S.

Restoration, repairs enter second week in Cape Breton, northeast N.S.

Over a week after post-tropical storm Fiona ravaged Atlantic Canada, parts of Nova Scotia are still picking up the pieces.

Power restoration efforts are ongoing in Cape Breton and along the north shore — two of the hardest-hit areas in the province.

On Sunday, RJ MacNeil, a lineman with Bell Aliant, said he and other members of the crew have spent days trying to restore communication services to areas on the Island after massive trees tore through power lines.

"All our connections are done, just have to put our cables back in the air," he said. The work has involved running new copper and fibre-optic cables throughout the area.

He said some customers should have services restored by Sunday evening.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

On Saturday, Jeff Howes, a line supervisor from Maine-based Central Maine Power Company, said he and a team of about 40 people arrived last week to assist Nova Scotia Power in the Cape Breton area.

Howes said the team has been to about six different locations in Nova Scotia since the storm blew through.

The Central Maine team has helped in rewiring power poles and attaching them to homes.

"When the call of assistance comes in, we're very happy to help out," said Howes, who expects to spend a few more days in the area.

Though members of the Canadian Armed Forces had previously been deployed to help with recovery soon after Fiona, Defence Minister Anita Anand said in a tweet Sunday that another 200 personnel will be sent to help the 350 already here.

She said the personnel will help clear debris around properties to help with power restoration.

"We are working hand-in-hand with provinces and partners to get the job done," Anand wrote in a subsequent tweet.

Sydney resident Trina Gerard said on Saturday she recently got back to her home after a week in the dark. She spent most of that time walking, waiting and bingeing movies on DVD, she said, and getting power back has been a relief.

"Not going to lie, I cried a little bit when I found out they were all here," Gerard said when she learned restoration crews were in the area. "It's still hard to believe that I can walk into a room and flick a light on. After a week without it, it was very nice."

Urban park in Truro still heavily damaged

Restoration efforts continue in Truro, where Nova Scotia Power estimates some customers could be without electricity until late Tuesday, according to the utility's live outage map.

Mayor Bill Mills said one of his big concerns is the number of people who continue to walk through Victoria Park while crews attempt to clean up storm damage. Mills said residents have been "sightseeing" in the urban park and getting in the way of work teams, possibly putting themselves in danger.

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"I can't reiterate enough that [people should] stay out of the park," he said. "There are dangerous conditions.

"What Hurricane Juan started in many ways Fiona finished. We have a large population of older trees and hemlocks ... the older tree stock was vulnerable and there's a lot of areas that are completely flattened."

He estimates the park might not be open to the public for at least the next two months.

"It's going to take a long time to get the parts restored and it's not going to be like it was before," he said.

Schools reopening

In the days following the storm, several schools were closed due to damage and power outages.

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centres for Education said in a Facebook post on Sunday that all schools and the central office would be open on Monday, Oct. 3.

It said ongoing cleanup may affect busing during the week. The post said if families are aware of blockages in their area that might affect bus access, students would be picked up and dropped off at the nearest accessible bus stop to their house.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education announced on Thursday classes would resume in most schools within the district on Monday. It said news about more closures would come Sunday night.

Classes at all schools in the Strait Regional Centre for Education will resume on Monday Oct. 3, the centre said in a tweet on Sunday.