Some N.S. Mi'kmaw communities still without power after Fiona's devastating winds

Jeff Ward, right, and his son Oonig Paul-Ward have so far volunteered over 40 hours of their time at the Membertou comfort centre. (Submitted by Jeff Ward - image credit)
Jeff Ward, right, and his son Oonig Paul-Ward have so far volunteered over 40 hours of their time at the Membertou comfort centre. (Submitted by Jeff Ward - image credit)

As Nova Scotia grapples with widespread power outages in the wake of post-tropical storm Fiona, Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny says the Mi'kmaw communities in Unama'ki (Cape Breton) are taking care of one another.

"We always rely on one another in a time of crisis; it's a wonderful thing," said Denny.

Fiona made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia just after 3 a.m. Saturday and 100-plus km/h winds toppled trees and power lines.

Denny said his community, about 40 kilometres south of Sydney, N.S., hasn't assessed the damage yet but he said he thinks it's extensive.

Denny said as soon as the power went out his first priority was ensuring the community's elders and disabled were taken care of.

He said the Emergency Management Office in Eskasoni was well prepared and staff worked to ensure community members were safe.

Other Mi'kmaw communities are also helping them. Potlotek First Nation sent 22 generators and Wagmatcook and We'koqma'q First Nations have sent food, water and gas.

George Mortimer
George Mortimer

Denny said their biggest challenge now is dealing with the fuel shortages caused by the power outages. He said generators are helping to power three comfort centres providing warm meals, water and charging stations.

The community is also powering several deep freezers to save people's groceries.

Nova Scotia Power's website is estimating power in Eskasoni should return Tuesday or Wednesday.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada said First Nation governments play a lead role in assessing needs and determining the appropriate course of action, which may include evacuation, on-ground support and transportation.

ISC is monitoring the damage from Fiona and "will co-ordinate actions to ensure support for the health and safety of affected community members and infrastructure, should needs surpass community capability."

Katt Francis/Facebook
Katt Francis/Facebook

Membertou First Nation, near Sydney, has two emergency shelters: one run by the Canadian Red Cross at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre for people who have lost their homes or are displaced and one at the Membertou community school for people who need a warm meal or to charge their electronics.

Jeff Ward and his son Oonig volunteered over 40 hours of their time at the centre this weekend.

"Our families and our community members are coming together very strongly," said Ward, a committee member of the Membertou Emergency Management Office.

Ward said the storm was truly frightening.

"The house felt like it was shaking, and it was just coming periodically and you could just hear that big wind," said Ward.

Submitted by Jeff Ward.
Submitted by Jeff Ward.

Ward said his community is dealing with power outages and still has to do storm cleanup. The community's gas station is still in operation and Ward said hundreds of vehicles have been lined up in all four directions.

He said he hopes people are patient and remember road safety when they come to Membertou.