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As P.E.I. waits for power, those with electricity offer showers, heat and stoves

Click to play video: 'Many Maritimers still without power two weeks after Fiona'
Many Maritimers still without power two weeks after Fiona
WATCH: While many Maritimers are spending time with family this Thanksgiving weekend, many are doing so in the dark. Hundreds of Nova Scotians are still without power, while thousands on P.E.I remain off the grid, more than two weeks after post-tropical storm Fiona ripped through the region. Ashley Field reports – Oct 9, 2022

Julie Laurin was among the thousands of people on Prince Edward Island who woke up in the dark again on Sunday, more than two weeks after post-tropical storm Fiona tore past the province.

The day marked Laurin’s 16th without power since the devastating storm hit Atlantic Canada early on Sept. 24, she said in an interview. The slog through the darkness has been “just brutal,”
adding she’s becoming increasingly worried about some of her neighbours.

“There’s a lot of people who are alone and have nothing,” she said. “We’re so lucky that in this little neighbourhood in North Wiltshire, where we’re at, they’re helping each other out. But I’m hearing stories of people who are just not as fortunate.”

The crushing storm wiped out power for thousands of people across Atlantic Canada when it barrelled through the region. Fiona washed out roads, knocked down trees and power lines, and swept houses out to sea.

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As of about 8 p.m. local time on Sunday, Nova Scotia Power was reporting 99 active outages and 124 affected customers. The situation was worse on Prince Edward Island: over 4,700 customers were still without power, according to Maritime Electric’s website.

Read more: Restoring power after Fiona getting more complicated: Nova Scotia Power

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It could be Friday before power is restored to all of the Island, said company spokesperson Kim Griffin in an interview Saturday.

“We’re really hoping that that’s the latest,” she said.

“There’s never been such damage like this across the Island that I can remember. It’s devastating.”

Crews were working on the restoration efforts throughout the long weekend, she added.

Darcie Lanthier, who has run unsuccessfully in P.E.I. for the federal and provincial Green Party, said in an interview that the numbers reported by Maritime Electric represent meters or accounts.
The total number of people struggling without power is much higher, she said.

Lanthier said people have lost entire fridges and freezers full of food by now as the contents have thawed.

“A lot of people didn’t just lose what was in their fridge, but they lost what they were planning to eat over the winter. Months and months of food, carefully grown and harvested and processed and stored, to get them through the winter,” she said.

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“It’s heartbreaking to drive around the countryside and see the freezers out on people’s driveways, empty, open, draining.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba sending emergency support workers, equipment, to storm-ravaged P.E.I.'
Manitoba sending emergency support workers, equipment, to storm-ravaged P.E.I.

Lanthier’s power was restored Friday. Like many others whose lights came on within the past few days, she’s thrown open her doors to offer neighbours a place to take a hot shower, do laundry, cook a meal or just enjoy a warm house.

“I would do anything for the folks who still don’t have power. It’s horrific. It’s awful,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to bathe in the last few weeks if not for the kindness of friends and neighbours who let me come over and have a shower.”

Laurin, meanwhile, has power during the day thanks to her landlord’s generator next door. But the nights are getting colder, she said.

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Laurin said she wishes the province would set up a toll-free number or hotline that people could call for information about supports or to request help.

“There are people who probably don’t have potable water, or who need their insulin refrigerated,” she said. “It’s time for an actual co-ordinated effort to knock on doors and help the people out.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 9, 2022.

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