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Dorian damage - Trees down, power out, people coping across most of Annapolis County


ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. —

Annapolis Royal Fire Chief Andrew Cranton said it looked like a bomb went off.

Firefighters were out with chainsaws clearing roads and streets of downed trees and limbs as Hurricane Dorian still howled and the rain was hitting them sideways Saturday evening.

One call was to Tupperville about 9 p.m. where a giant pine tree had crashed onto the road near the community hall blocking Highway 201 so completely nothing could get by. They were assisting Bridgetown firefighters on that call with the intent of keeping roads open for emergency vehicles.

It was a scene repeated all over Annapolis County as trees and tree limbs fell across roads either taking the power lines with them or lying on the wires just waiting to fall the rest of the way.

And trees fell on houses, cars, fences, and sheds.

Cranton said Saturday didn’t start out good and just got worse. They fired up their big generator after the first power outage and blew the turbocharger.

“We had no way to offer a comfort station,” He said. “So what we had to do, we had to gather as many generators as we could, and when we got enough here at the hall we could open up. So we opened up today (Sunday, Sept. 8) about 3:30, four o’clock.”

They were serving coffee and people were coming in for water and to charge their phones and tablets. But their WiFi was down because somebody severed a fiberoptic cable down the road from them.

“We have lots of people coming in right now,” he said at 8 p.m. “They’ve been coming in most of the day since we opened up. Some people have been coming in with containers taking water home. A lot of people are in here charging their phones and iPads to make sure they have communications.”

“The place around here looked like a bomb went off,” he said. “To be honest with you, Annapolis Royal has a small natural disaster going on.”

In a social media message to residents of Annapolis Royal the morning after Hurricane Dorian, Mayor Bill MacDonald said “Although we’ve got power lines and lots of trees down, I’ve not seen any reported loss of life – so we can consider ourselves blessed. It may be some time before power is restored in our community. Check on your neighbours, and let’s come together and support each other until things get back to normal.”

Firefighers responded to a chimney fire early Sunday morning, and that was connected to the storm because with the power out, woods stoves were being used to heat water.

In Lawrencetown, firefighters had also opened a comfort centre with people charging phones, drinking coffee, and even playing games on the tables set up. Across the road from the firehall firefighters were pumping out a basement, and next door to that a large tree was at a 45-degree angle with its roots pulled from the ground.

Fire Chief Mike Stoddart said they’d keep the fire hall open until 8 p.m. and reassess for subsequent days. But power in many places isn’t expected to be restored until Tuesday and even Wednesday. Lawrencetown’s water system is gravity fed, so residents still have water, although waste water management had public works working around the clock to keep powerless lift stations functioning. They had a generator on a trailer to supply power to the pumps to move the water that could have backed up into basements.

The Middleton and Bridgetown fire halls also opened Sunday. Bridgetown was supplying water and a charging station and a place to wait while the phones charged -- and left the hose out and a big powerbar outside for self-serve even after they closed up for the day.

The most sought-after commodity besides water was gasoline, and service stations with generators to power the pumps were doing a brisk business Sunday. Lineups were 30 and 40 vehicles long at the Lequille Country Store. Staff directed patrons to the end of the lengthy line, but things were moving quickly at the pumps and at the cash register as they also had the debit machines up and running.

Further down Highway 8 past Lequille, Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site was closed until further notice. They’d packed campers out Friday evening in advance of the storm that did knock out power at the park and downed numerous trees.

“There is still no power in the park and a preliminary ground assessment has found many downed trees,” a spokesman said in a media release Sunday afternoon. “Many trees in the campground and other visitor service areas have broken trunks or branches that pose a safety risk to visitors. Fallen trees are also blocking roads in the park. Crews are on-site clearing trees and debris in an effort to reopen the park as quickly as possible.”

Parks Canada said it will provide an update on the park’s status at noon on Sept. 11.

“Visitor safety is of the utmost importance for Parks Canada,” the spokesman said. “This closure will remain in place until conditions are safe and will be re-assessed when appropriate.”

Fort Anne National Historic Site in Annapolis Royal was also closed. Downed trees and broken limbs dotted the grounds, including in the graveyard where one tree fell and just missed the grave marker for legendary Black Loyalist Rose Fortune.

Fort Anne is expected to reopen to the public on Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. A re-assessment will be done at that time.

As of 9 p.m. Sept. 8, there were 5,203 active outages in Nova Scotia affecting 235,413 customers, according to Nova Scotia Power’s outage map. In Annapolis County, outages ranged mostly down the Valley floor from Middleton to Bear River and most points in between. But if you think you have to make lunches and get kids to school Monday, Sept. 9, that’s not happening. All schools in Nova Scotia will be closed as buildings and infrastructure are assessed.

In the meantime, guys are out with chainsaws and downed trees are next year’s fire wood. People are coping and decks of cards and board games have been dug out in homes across the region.

COMFORT CENTRES

Comfort Centres in Annapolis County as of 10:30 a.m. Sept. 8 supplied by the County of Annapolis:

These were Sunday’s hours. Check to see if they are open on subsequent days.

-- Bear River Fire Hall, 1277 River road, Bear River – 902-467-3633 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

-- Cornwallis Park – Felker Community Centre – 734 Broadway Ave. N – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., Phone 902-638-8307

-- Maitland Bridge Community Hall, 701 Highway 8 – open from 10 a.m to 12 noon and again 2 to 5 p.m., Phone 902-682-7137

-- Bridgetown Fire Hall, 31 Bay Road., Bridgetown 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Phone 902-665-4505

-- Margaretsville Fire Hall – 2768 Hwy 362, Margaretsville, 8 a.m until no longer needed, Phone 902-825-3537

-- Lawrencetown Fire Hall - 549 Main Street, Lawrencetown, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Phone 902-584-3444

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