Nova Scotia

No power and little gas, Shelburne-area residents toughed it out in Dorian's wake

All three gas stations in Shelburne weren't operating Monday morning because they had no power. It meant many people weren't able to get gas for their generators, chainsaws and vehicles.

'We have seven power poles gone. They're snapped in half.'

Doug Murphy waits for gas in Shelburne, N.S. He needs the fuel to keep his generator and chainsaws going so he can keep trying to clean up the mess left behind by Dorian. (Robert Short/CBC)

There was growing frustration in Shelburne, N.S., on Monday as all three gas stations in the town struggled with power outages in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

"It's very stressful," said Doug Murphy of nearby Sable River. "I just got to keep my generator running to keep my food frozen and my water hot."

Murphy and dozens of others were parked outside the Needs gas bar late in the morning. Word was out it had power and Murphy drove in — but he was too late. About an hour after the power came on, it went off again.

Some of the power issues in town were not resolved until later in the day. On Tuesday morning, Mayor Karen Mattatall reported that "everything is pretty much back to normal in terms of power."

Dorian approached the province on Saturday as a Category 2 hurricane, before making landfall in the Halifax area as a strong post-tropical storm. 

On Monday, there was no shortage in Shelburne of gasoline in the big tanks underground, but with no power, there was no way to activate the pumps.

Murphy, a volunteer firefighter, had been helping his neighbours clear trees and branches for the past couple of days. He spent his nights working on his generator to keep it running and didn't know how much longer he'd be without electricity.

"Not a clue," he said. "I think probably Wednesday, but that's only talk."

People in some nearby communities believe it will take at least a few more days to get their power back. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

By early afternoon Monday, Murphy's three jerry cans in the back of his truck were still empty.

At the local Shell station, Dorothy and Raymond Penney sat in their half-tonne truck waiting for the power to come on. They had jerry cans, too.

"It's all about the generators," said Dorothy Penney.

She didn't think the power would come back at her home for another week.

"Up our way, I'm going to say it's probably going to be a good week because we have seven power poles gone. They're snapped in half," she said.

"The wires are laying on the ground. There are great big trees on them. The trees have been cut out of the road so we can get down but that's just about it."

People were waiting hours for the power to come back on at gas stations in Shelburne. There was gas in the tanks, but without electricity there was no way to pump it out. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

The power came back on at the Shell station after the Penneys had been waiting an hour, but as soon they pulled up to the pumps it went off again. The owners of the station said power flickers were creating chaos for the computers. 

Even if the power stayed on, the proprietors said, they couldn't sell gas until their computer system is serviced.

Mattattall said there was also an issue with fuel trucks being able to deliver to gas stations, but once they were able to get through things went smoother.

There's been substantial cleanup in the town, she said Tuesday, and phone and internet service appear to be coming back online.

"You can drive down any street in Shelburne and barely know there was a storm," she said.

People cleared away some of the fallen trees that littered the streets in Shelburne. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

Penny said for the time being she would find a way to make do without power or gas.

"We're in the woods, so we're not considered a priority," Penney said. "And I understand that. I know people need the hospitals; and other people need the power and the gas more than we do right now."

That kind of generous spirit was on display Monday at the local fire hall. People in the community have been bringing all the food from their refrigerators to the fire hall to share it.

"I think when you live in a small community, that's what you do," said Kathleen Glauser, owner of the Charlotte Lane Café.

She and her husband brought whatever they could salvage from their kitchen to the fire hall.

"It was pretty easy decision," she said. "You share it. We had cheesecakes galore, we had peanut butter cream pies, sticky toffee pudding, lemon panna cotta. Just your average fire hall dessert."

Fallen trees have been cleared from many roads so people can more easily get around. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

The power came back on at the café on Monday but it will be awhile before it's business as usual.

"The difficulty now will be figuring out whether all those people who booked reservations for tomorrow night at the restaurant will be able to be fed," Glauser said. "Because even though we've got power, we're not sure about deliveries. We need cream and milk and things to cook with."


Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.


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