• Tue. Nov 22nd, 2022

Medical services affected, some schools closed as Nova Scotia cleanup continues

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

Sep 26, 2022

A further 22,000 customers saw power restored overnight on Sunday as restoration and cleanup continued in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fiona.

That number continued to rise throughout the day on Monday, and as of 5 p.m. Monday, the number of customers without service had fallen to 173,000 from an initial number of more than 415,000. Most without service are in central and northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, where tree and street clearing work continues.

Nova Scotia Power said in an update that crews are still assessing damage.

“While progress is being made, there is still a lot of hard work to do,” NSP Storm Manager Matt Drover said in the press release.

“We’ve been able to start seeing some of these hardest hit areas better with drones and helicopters, and that reinforces the extent of the damage.”

He said some of that damage includes:

  • thousands of trees on power lines
  • hundreds of poles broken or bent due to downed trees
  • downed transformers
  • fallen trees blocking roads

NSP said many of these repairs are complex, take longer and require multiple steps before power can be safely restored. In some cases, trees must be removed to gain access to streets, debris must be removed from power lines, and new equipment or materials must be brought in.

Once this is done, broken poles and other electrical equipment can begin to be repaired or completely rebuilt.

Drover said at a briefing held by the province on Monday that there are 1,000 workers on the ground in the province, with more arriving every day from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine and New England. This is the highest number of crews to respond to major storm damage in the province.

During the briefing, Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office spokesperson Jason Mew said roads are still being cleared so power crews can get to in areas where the lines are down, but “there are still a lot of roads to travel; please continue to stay off the roads and give these teams the space they need to work.”

He said the provincial public works department continues to assess damage to roads and bridges. People should check the Public Works 511 website for information on open and closed roads, but he said he prefers people to stay completely off the roads.

He said the office was working with fuel suppliers to prioritize fuel delivery. All fuel terminals now have power and deliveries to all stations were underway Monday morning. Mew said they are working with Nova Scotia Power to ensure gas stations are at the top of the priority list for reconnecting, but he asks people not to make unnecessary trips to the hardest hit areas. .

Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, commander of Joint Task Force Armed Forces Atlantic, said there were more than 100 Canadian Forces members in Cape Breton helping clear debris and trees around the downed power lines, then clearing the roads. He said the number of people could be doubled if necessary, and the initial unit is assessing what the demands will be.

Nova Scotia Health patients should consider the nature of appointments made and whether non-urgent appointments can be rescheduled. – Eric Wynne / File

Adjusted healthcare operations

Nova Scotia Health said most areas affected by Fiona have adjusted their operations to focus on the most urgent care.

Only emergency surgeries take place in the East Zone. Elective surgery and endoscopies are cancelled. As NSH tries to contact patients directly, there are still phone issues in the area. There will only be outpatient and emergency outpatient clinics; cancer care and dialysis will continue as planned, as will blood collection and diagnostic imaging appointments, and mental health and addictions sessions.

NSH said patients should consider the nature of appointments booked and whether non-urgent appointments can be rescheduled.

In the North Zone, primary care services will be closed in leased premises that do not have electricity; COVID testing centers will be closed and some elective surgeries will be postponed.

In the Central Zone, some elective surgeries at the QEII Health Sciences Center will be postponed

The western area is not affected.

Schools outside of the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore were closed Monday, as were many provincial offices.

In Halifax, regional police said in a statement that too many people continue to be on the road unnecessarily, with several conditions creating safety risks across the municipality. These include downed power lines, trees and debris in the streets, power outages affecting traffic lights and intersections, and extensive isolated flooding throughout the region.

“Despite these conditions, many vehicles are on the road this morning, which adds to the dangerous conditions. We recognize that some travel is unavoidable, but we ask everyone to consider other options before venturing out,” the statement read.

“As first responders work on recovery efforts after Hurricane Fiona, they are also dealing with severe weather this morning. We ask everyone to keep these recovery efforts in mind and put their safety through. and that of others first during this difficult time.”

In most parts of Nova Scotia, regional emergency management organizations again opened comfort centers at several fire departments Monday morning. Some also operated emergency or evacuation shelters. Information on open centers and their locations can be found by contacting local municipalities or regional EMO offices. If they cannot be reached, the provincial EMO office can be contacted at 902-424-5620.