New Brunswick

Tracadie faces food shortage on Day 9 of power outages from ice storm

Power is slowly being restored in Tracadie, and town officials expect to lift the state of emergency by Friday, but residents are now dealing with a food shortage and bracing for another possible storm on Monday.

Provincial government has donated money to food banks, but supplies hard to find

Volunteers pack food boxes from dwindling supplies at Au Rayon d'Espoir food bank in Tracadie. (CBC)

Power is slowly being restored in Tracadie, and town officials expect to lift the state of emergency by Friday, but residents are now dealing with a food shortage and bracing for another possible storm on Monday.

The number of outages in the municipality from last week's major ice storm has been reduced to about 1,060, as of early Thursday, down from the approximately 20,000 NB Power customers without electricity when the mayor declared the state of emergency on Jan. 27.

But even those lucky enough to be reconnected went days without power and lost all the food in their fridges.

Roger St. Pierre, manager of Au Rayon d'Espoir food bank, went to Bathurst, Caraquet, and Miramichi to load up on groceries to bring back to Tracadie. (CBC)
The Au Rayon d'Espoir food bank, which is used to serving up to 40 people on a busy day, is now serving closer to 140 people onsite and at the community warming centre at l'école Le Tremplin, which is now doubling as a makeshift food box pickup, said manager Roger St. Pierre.

Supplies are dwindling, he said.

The provincial government has donated $100,000 to food banks in regions hardest hit by the storm, which include  Tracadie and the rest of the Acadian Peninsula, where the bulk of the province's remaining 5,000 or so outages are located.

The trouble has been finding food to buy, said St. Pierre, who is also the treasurer of the Association of New Brunswick Food Banks.

"Usually, I go to stores in Tracadie, but I emptied those stores," he said. "So I have to work with people in Miramichi and Caraquet."

On Thursday, he had to be in Bathurst, so he stopped by the Walmart to buy some peanut butter and Cheese Whiz.

Au Rayon d'Espoir food bank is also providing supplies to the warming centre at l'école Le Tremplin in Tracadie, where people can get hot meals and pick up food boxes. (CBC)
The food bank, whose name translates to Ray of Hope, tries to give people enough food to last three to five days, or enough to give "food security," said St. Pierre. "That's our mission."

Anyone who has non-perishable food items they're willing to donate is urged to drop them off at the food bank, 613 rue Rivière à la Truite, or the warming centre at 520 rue de l'Église, he said.

Those in need are encouraged to call ahead at 606-395-6537, particularly those with young children, because the boxes can be tailored to meet individual needs, such baby formula and diapers.

Volunteers are helping to deliver the boxes to those who can't leave their homes, said St. Pierre.

'Not stopping until everybody is safe'

Tracadie general manager Denis Poirier said people across the province have been very generous to the town, bringing food, water, blankets, and gas cards so people can refill their generators. (CBC)
Meanwhile, town and EMO operations have moved back into the town hall from the NB Power operations centre now that power has been restored, said general manager Denis Poirier.

"It's going pretty well," he said, with ramped-up efforts to deliver food to those in need, warming centres running 24 hours a day and members of the Canadian Armed Forces going door-to-door in some areas.

"We're not stopping until everybody is safe." 

Another storm may hit the region on Monday, "so hopefully the system will keep running," said Poirier.

"It all depends what kind of snow."

So far, the Environment Canada's forecast for Monday includes only flurries.

Much of the power infrastructure in the area is still coated with thick ice.

"If it's heavy snow and it sticks to the lines, it will be another challenge," said Poirier.

With files from Bridget Yard

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