Mary Brown's among businesses lending a wing to people affected by forest fires

·3 min read
Mary Brown's filled part of a helicopter with baby supplies to deliver to the Coast of Bays region as part of a delivery run to resupply its restaurant in Harbour Breton. (Mary Brown's/Facebook - image credit)
Mary Brown's filled part of a helicopter with baby supplies to deliver to the Coast of Bays region as part of a delivery run to resupply its restaurant in Harbour Breton. (Mary Brown's/Facebook - image credit)
Mary Brown's/Facebook
Mary Brown's/Facebook

As the supply of necessities like baby formula, diapers and wipes dwindles, Mary Brown's Chicken is making sure some of the littlest people affected by Newfoundland's raging forest fires are being taken care of.

The restaurant chain, which first opened its doors in Newfoundland more than 50 years ago, sent a helicopter into Harbour Breton this week to restock its own location — and to help families whose supplies of baby-related needs have run low.

The Bay d'Espoir Highway — the only road connection for Harbour Breton and nearby coastal communities to the rest of Newfoundland — had been closed for five days because of one of two large forest fires on the island. It reopened Tuesday afternoon.

"On Monday we made the decision to send a helicopter down there to bring down supplies to the store, and we had some extra room on board," Darrell Durdle, Mary Brown's director of operations in eastern Canada, said Wednesday.

"We [had] seen that there was a huge need for diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, things like that. So we had some room, and we filled the rest of our space with some of those supplies."

Durdle said it was important for the restaurant chain to help the community and make sure residents were taken care of, especially in a stressful situation like the forest fires.

"People of the community came together to make sure that everyone was taken care of. So it was really heartwarming to see," he said. "We may be a growing national and international company now, but we always stay close to our roots and make sure that we take care of our people."

Aquaculture company offers 2 vessels to move food

Another Atlantic Canadian company, Cooke Aquaculture in New Brunswick, is also prepared to help in the effort to deliver more supplies to the region.

Cooke has offered two vessels to the provincial government that are capable of holding 75 full pallets of groceries, according to a news release.

CBC
CBC

"The majority of issues around the road closure was around the supply to local groceries," Joel Richardson, Cooke's vice-president of public relations, told CBC News. He added local workers in Hermitage — located about an hour outside of Bay d'Espoir — were keen to help wherever they could.

"When there's times of crisis, we always try to offer up our equipment and resources and our people step forward."

Richardson said the company is working with municipal governments, the Red Cross and the provincial government for support. He said the province was grateful for the helping hand.

However, shortly after the Bay d'Espoir Highway reopened, Richardson said the company got a call from the provincial government indicating the vessels wouldn't be needed after all. CBC News has contacted the Department of Transportation for clarity and its reasoning for the guidance.

Even so, Richardson said the group is ready to help wherever they can.

"We're on standby, and if the province and the Red Cross need any help at all, we'll be available."

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