Neighbours respond by cooking meals for Charlottetown crews working 'flat out' to clear debris

City crews are working dawn to dusk to clear Charlottetown of debris. (Cody MacKay/CBC - image credit)
City crews are working dawn to dusk to clear Charlottetown of debris. (Cody MacKay/CBC - image credit)

On a busy Charlottetown side street, in the drizzling rain, there's a miserable sight of fallen trees and what easily looks like a full day of cleanup.

There's city crews, volunteers and people from a local business all with shovels, clearing a mire of leaves, muck and branches. The sound of chainsaws echoes throughout the street as sawdust rains like confetti.

Islanders know the scene well, it's all they've seen since Saturday, with mass destruction to homes and businesses brought on by Fiona.

But, somehow, city crews who've been doing this work tirelessly for days on end are smiling as every tree felled, sawed and thrown in the back of a dump truck is a little victory.

Cody MacKay/CBC
Cody MacKay/CBC

"It's flat out the whole time," said Joe MacKinnon, assistant manager of public works. "The crews are doing extremely well. They're working hard, they're getting tired but they're all pulling together and they're working as a team. I think morale is great right now."

Crews are working basically dawn to dusk, 12-hour days to clear tree debris across the capital.

What's helping keep the crews going is the thankful response from the public. MacKinnon said it's emotional even talking about it, hearing stories of Charlottetown residents running out to deliver food, drinks and even invite crews in for supper.

"People have been a tremendous help," he said. "We've had people setting up coffee urns outside with generators to give the guys coffee, we've had people come out of their homes saying the meat in their freezer is going bad, 'Do you mind if we cook you chicken and potatoes for dinner?'"

"They're feeding our crews on the side of the road."

Cody MacKay/CBC
Cody MacKay/CBC

A crew that CBC News spoke to on Eden Street said they've had nothing but support from the neighbours they're helping out.

They've had coffee and doughnuts delivered to them throughout the day and although they're tired they want to see the task through to the end.

"The response has just been phenomenal from the public to our staff and we truly appreciate it and I know the staff appreciate it," said Scott Adams, manager of public works. "Everyone is supporting each other, it's amazing."

What is a crew's day like?

Adams said crews are on the road by 7 a.m. and are going till 7 p.m. each day.

As crews arrive in the morning, dispatch sends them out to priority areas that have been pre-assessed and off they go to clear streets of trees if it's safe to do so, Adams said.

By Wednesday morning he estimates there should be "95 per cent of our streets accessible.

"We're starting to really get in good shape of streets being opened up," Adams said.

Any cleanup work that isn't finished by evening is tackled when crews are back on at seven the next morning. It's a daily cycle that's going to keep going until all streets are clear.

"We'll keep at this until we get the city cleaned up," he said.

"Right now, as I say, we're working long hours each and every day just to get the city opened up."