P.E.I. care homes without power, communication in Fiona's wake

This large generator has been powering the Prince Edward Home since Fiona whipped through on the weekend. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
This large generator has been powering the Prince Edward Home since Fiona whipped through on the weekend. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Some of P.E.I.'s most vulnerable population sectors have been hit hard in the wake of post-tropical storm Fiona — particularly seniors.

CBC News spoke with several nursing homes in Charlottetown on Wednesday. None had significant damage but some were still relying on generators five days after the storm — something they had in common with much of the province.

At one provincially run apartment building for seniors, the power was back but there were still puddles in the hallway.

Resident Don Roberts believes maintenance staff could have done something by now to address the leaky roof the the storm left behind.

"Yesterday the rain was bouncing off the floor in the common area. Everything is soaked," he said.

"So where's maintenance? If someone would have put a tarp on that roof, would have been a couple of hours, would have saved a lot of misery for people in here."

Residents told CBC News power outages left hallways in complete darkness for four days.

The province says maintenance crews have been working around the clock, and damages at this location were minor compared to other properties, but it does plan to send in a contractor.


Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly says people deserve better.

"I don't think cutting down trees around this place is a priority right now, I think it's the roof overhead and the water that was bouncing off the floor," he said.

"I'm calling on the minister to make sure that our senior units are taken care of, and that people are checked in with from a provincial government perspective, because what I'm hearing is that hasn't happened at this time."

Staffing challenges

Both public and private nursing homes made plans to bring in extra staff on Friday before the storm hit, but problems with cell service made it difficult to communicate — and all homes had issues with workers not being able to come in.

"We did have many staff who were not able to make it to work, especially Saturday morning," said Kense Philip with P.E.I. Seniors Homes.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"The major issue we had was with cell phone communication, networks being down. I don't know what else can be done with that."

At the Garden Home, night staff stayed on shift into Saturday and managers did what they could to pick up workers to spell them. Staff say residents were well cared for.

The Prince Edward Home is still on a generator — one of three provincial homes that remain without power. The province says it was a challenge getting staff during Fiona for nursing homes and home care.

"We certainly had reductions, limitations in people being able to come in, even though we had so many people come in advance," said Andrew McDougall with Health P.E.I. Seniors Care.

The province says it's focused on the safety of residents and staff.

While the utility outages last, residents are missing out on internet, TV service, and other activities.

Health P.E.I. says now, more than ever, is a time for people in the community to reach out to visit or volunteer.