Raising the roof: Cape Breton roofer still tackling Fiona damages

Roofer Delton McDonald from Sydney, N.S., working on a home a few weeks after post-tropical storm Fiona. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)
Roofer Delton McDonald from Sydney, N.S., working on a home a few weeks after post-tropical storm Fiona. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)

More than three months after Fiona tore through Atlantic Canada, a Cape Breton roofer says he's still working on homes damaged during the storm and will continue well into winter.

Delton McDonald is the owner and operator of Knotled Roofing and Carpentry in Sydney, N.S. He's also one of the main contractors used by restoration company Paul Davis Cape Breton. In the immediate aftermath of the storm his crew worked on more than 100 roofs. Three months later, he's done more than 200 jobs and sees no sign of stopping.

"Before Fiona I loaded up with strapping and paper and ice- and water-shield to … be prepared for this," he said.

"But for this devastation, there was no preparation for it. Like you'd have to have a crew of 20 people to even stay in on top of it all."

Many of the jobs he did initially were temporary fixes meant to keep water out, but as the scope of the devastation became apparent, he realized it would take a while to get back to those temporary jobs .

"It was kind of like a Band-Aid … to address it a little later but there were so many, later never really came."

Some of those homes will need extensive repairs in the spring. In the meantime, said McDonald doesn't typically work on roofs in January and February but he'll keep working to try to help as many people as he can.

"I'm like a fisherman. I'm on The Weather Channel every day looking to see any positive days, any plus temperatures next week ... [so] we can get something done for somebody."

In order to work in the colder months McDonald will take some creative approaches.

He'll keep bundles of shingles in heated garages if the homeowner has one or he'll keep his truck running to keep them warm. If they can stay warm on the way up to the roof, he can work with them. Otherwise, nails break when they're shot into freezing shingles with a nail gun.

Waiting for fixes

Some Nova Scotians say they are still waiting on insurance to cover repairs to Fiona related damage. The Insurance Bureau of Canada now estimates the cost of insurable damages from the storm at $800 million.

Despite the cool weather, McDonald said he's still getting calls every day. Knowing he can't take every job, he has some advice for homeowners. If a reputable roofer can do the job, don't shop around for a quote as it's difficult to find someone at all. He said someone approached him recently to ask for a quote to compare to the first one and he advised them to go with the first roofer so they didn't miss their chance to get the work done.

He also said "reputable" is the key word. Shortly after Fiona hit, he said unlicensed carpenters offered up services at high prices and he's had to redo a few jobs. So he advises homeowners to check out the person or company first.