Cape Bretoners getting by without creature comforts

Hannah Marks of Sydney stands in front of her family's Union Street home that was damaged from the impacts of the storm.  (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Hannah Marks of Sydney stands in front of her family's Union Street home that was damaged from the impacts of the storm. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, there are thousands of people still in the dark and some are nearing a week without power.

Throughout the local area, empty shelves can be found at grocery stores and there are hour-long waits to get near some gas stations.

At a Sydney River laundromat, there was a lineup of 10 people waiting to get inside on Wednesday morning.

"It's been hard," said Rita Martin, who stood beside a basket of bedding.

"When you're used to having a routine everyday and doing your daily things it's a complete turnaround because you can't do half the stuff that you usually do."

Storm fallout

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

In the days since post-tropical storm Fiona brought damaging winds and rain to Atlantic Canada last Friday, many on the island are still dealing with the fallout.

Martin has no electricity inside her Sydney Mines seniors' apartment, but there is power in a common room that is shared by all.

To help pass the time, she and the other residents have been cooking and playing card games.

"We all have our meals together and we'll play games just to pass the time away and we have good laughs, so you make do with what you have. You don't realize how lucky you are to have what you have until it's gone."

Damage from fallen trees

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

Mary Blinkhorn, who lives just outside Coxheath, is another Cape Bretoner who is taking the inconveniences in stride.

She lost her power last Friday, but is thankful for family and friends who are willing to lend a hand.

"[It's] hard to eat food," said Blinkhorn. "You know this morning we went out for breakfast because I was dying for an egg. My daughter and her husband usually take us over for supper, so that helps."

Six trees fell in Blinkhorn's yard, crushing a barn and ripping the power line off her house.

Hannah Marks of Sydney is another person who saw damage to her home from falling trees. A tree branch pierced the family's roof on Union Street and caused damage to her father's pickup truck.

"The tree knocked the chimney off, right on top of the truck," said Marks.

"We were in the next room over and the whole house shook… It still hasn't really set in yet, but I'm sure once it really does, it will be kind of crushing."

Marks said the gash in the roof is fixable and no one was hurt.

She and the other women are regularly checking Nova Scotia Power's outage map, but are uncertain about the accuracy of the estimates.

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia Power said it's continuing to assess the damage in Cape Breton that includes hundreds of broken power poles and downed lines due to falling trees.

Nova Scotia Power said more than 65,000 customers were affected in the region, but more than 60 per cent have since had their power restored.