Nova Scotia

Neighbours with generators open doors to those without

People with generators in rural parts of the Halifax region are making sure neighbours without aren't left in the dark.

Halifax-area MLA calls for more generators at community centres or schools

Households with generators have been sharing power with neighbours post-Dorian. (Dave Irish/CBC)

The day after the powerful storm Dorian hit Nova Scotia, Stephen Horton was a man in demand.

The electrician, who owns his own business, was getting calls Sunday from lots of people who needed help with generators: some needed cords, some weren't sure how to run them and some people needed help installing them.

"It's what I do for a living, but it's mostly just to be neighbourly and help people out," Horton said at his home in Sambro, N.S., on Monday, where the sound of his own generator could be heard humming from a shed in his backyard.

Throughout this seaside part of the Halifax region, much of which remains without power and is cleaning up following damage from high winds and storm surge, generators can be heard and people with them are opening their doors to those without them so they can have access to hot water, charge a device or cook food.

"It's a good community," said Horton, whose own house was busy with friends and family coming and going. "Most people know one another and everyone is helpful in times like this."

Neighbours helping neighbours

The same was the case not far down the road in Ketch Harbour.

John Himmelman's generator could be heard in the distance as he cleared rocks and other debris washed onto the road from the harbour across the street from his house.

Himmelman said there have been lots of formal and informal offers of help among neighbours. He and his wife lent their smaller generator to their neighbours so they could preserve food in their fridge and freezer.

"There's a lot of community sense here, so, you know, neighbours helping out neighbours is something we've done and something that's been done since I moved here in 1997 … and long before that, for sure."

As crews continue to work to restore power and clear trees from power lines, the area's MLA said the situation underscores the need to prepare for the future and recognize that people in rural areas sometimes have mobility issues or other factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Stephen Horton is an electrician who's been helping neighbours with their generators after Dorian knocked out power to the Sambro area and much of the rest of Nova Scotia. (CBC)

Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire said he's pleased but not surprised to see so many people taking care of each other. But he'd also like to see a generator installed at a school or community hall in the area so people don't have to travel so far to get to municipal-operated comfort centres.

The one nearest to Sambro during Dorian was the Canada Games Centre, about a 30-minute drive away.

"They're telling us weather like this is going to be more prevalent, so we've got to be prepared for it," said Maguire.

He noted travel isn't easy for some people, while others prefer to stay in the communities they know where much of their family might be located.

"For those that stay, we want to make sure that they have a safe spot."

Himmelman said that sentiment is why the community is working to get a generator installed at the local community centre so it can be a warming and comfort centre in future times of need.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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