Nfld. & Labrador

Nurse hitches ride with Newfoundland Growlers captain — on a snowmobile

When her co-workers were entering their 40th hour at work at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital, Kristen Churchill wanted to give up her day off to help. Her boyfriend, Growlers captain James Melindy, fired up his snowmobile.

Kristen Churchill wanted to relieve her co-workers, but was stuck in Goulds

James Melindy helps his girlfriend, Kristen Churchill, get to work to relieve her co-workers after a marathon shift during Newfoundland's epic blizzard. (Newfoundland Growlers/Twitter)

As her co-workers entered their 40th hour without leaving St. Clare's Mercy Hospital, Kristen Churchill wanted to help out, but she was stuck on a snow-covered road all the way out in the Goulds area of St. John's.

That's when her boyfriend, Newfoundland Growlers captain James Melindy, fired up his snowmobile.

"She's a good person that wanted to help out on her day off," he said. "Newfoundlanders find a way."

The St. John's area was ravaged Friday by a blizzard that brought hurricane-force winds and record snowfall. On Wednesday, the city was entering its sixth day of a state of emergency.

Churchill and Melindy managed to make it off their road and she got into a waiting car, which drove her to the hospital, where she works as a registered nurse on the intensive-care unit.

Melindy said he knew exactly what to do when Churchill wanted to get to work. He grew up in the Goulds, where his mother was a nurse and his father often used a snowmobile to get her to work during snow storms.

A woman makes her way through the snow-covered streets in St. John’s on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

This storm, however, was unlike anything they've seen before.

"I'm in the Goulds so to have a Ski-Doo isn't too far out of the norm," Melindy said. "We have a field so we get a lot of drifting as well. Just down the road from me was 10-, 15-foot drifts. It was crazy."

As of Tuesday, essential workers could drive to and from work in their own vehicles. Most roads have had at least one cut through with a snow plow.

Churchill can probably get to work without a snowmobile now, but she'll always have a story to tell.

And Melindy has a renewed appreciation for the work she does.

"Our nurses and first responders, and people out taking care of this storm and snow, have done a tremendous job," he said.

As the city gets closer to lifting the state of emergency, the Growlers get ready to hit the road. 

The team hasn't missed any games due to the storm, and are supposed to fly to Pennsylvania on Thursday.

Melindy said players haven't been able to get to a rink to practise since the storm began. Instead, they've been shovelling to stay in game shape.

The team posted a picture on Twitter of players Todd Skirving and Aaron Luchuk digging out a neighbour — Novaks lead singer Mick Davis, who performed the song the Growlers skate out to each game during last year's championship run.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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