Snowed-in seniors forced to dig themselves out after blizzard

Residents of a seniors' rental building in Lower Sackville are upset after they were forced to dig themselves out to make way for paramedics after this week's blizzard.

Lower Sackville residents worried after 2 emergency calls during blizzard

Snowed-in senior Keith Barrett calls snow clearing at his building 'absolutely disgusting.' (CBC)

Residents of a seniors' rental building in Lower Sackville are upset after they were forced to dig themselves out to make way for paramedics after this week's blizzard.

Gerry Osborne lives at Millwood Place, which is managed by the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority. She said there was so much snow outside her building she wasn't sure the paramedics were going to make it into the building.

There were two emergency medical calls during Wednesday's blizzard, Osborne explained, and paramedics had to wade through snowbanks to reach the building.

"We had to call an ambulance for a lady in the building yesterday and they almost got the ambulance stuck in the driveway because the driveway wasn't plowed. It's still not plowed," she said.

"Someone is going to end up dying because they can't get in to get us."

Osborne said she called the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority to complain.

"It's an ongoing problem," she said Thursday morning.

"I understand that yesterday was a blizzard. I understand that. But here it is 11 o’clock today and the problem is not fixed. This is a problem."

The plow returned at noon on Thursday to finish the job.

Nova Scotia received between 20 and 40 centimetres of snow during Wednesday's blizzard. (CBC)

Janet Burt-Gerrans, the director of the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, said she understands the residents of Millwood Place expect snow removal is done in "a professional and timely manner."

"It is unacceptable for emergency vehicles to be unable to reach our tenants, for any reason, and we strive to put in place measures that will prevent this type of occurrence," she said in a statement to CBC News.

Burt-Gerrans said the snow removal contract for the building is handled by a private contractor.

"Our snow removal contract requires that during a weather event the roads, exits and entrances be maintained for emergency response," she said.

"We are following up with the contractor on snow removal from yesterday's storm, and to ensure that obligations of the contract are being fully met."

Keith Barrett, another resident at the building, said the plowing is "absolutely disgusting" so he does it himself to keep the doors clear. He said he does it whenever he can in the mornings.

"The plowing is lousy," said Barrett.

"The first storm, [the walkways] were so icy I wouldn't even dart out there. Forget it. It's not safe to walk."

Barrett, who has had a mini-stroke and has an irregular heartbeat, was so worried about access in and out of the building that he cleared several entrances — including the fire doors — on Thursday morning.


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