Nova Scotia

Storm damage to Inverness roads will take weeks to repair, says deputy warden

Clean-up crews have worked around the clock in Cape Breton as the weekend ice storm washed out roads and brought down trees and power lines, but repairs in the Inverness area are expected to take weeks.

Deputy Warden Bonny MacIsaac says nine roads were washed out during Easter weekend ice storm

Broken tree branches are seen along Main Street in Inverness on April 5, 2021 after an ice storm over Easter weekend. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Clean-up crews have worked around the clock in Cape Breton, N.S., as the weekend ice storm washed out roads and brought down trees and power lines, but repairs in the Inverness area are expected to take a while.

"We have a disaster on our hands here. It's a mess," said Bonny MacIsaac, the deputy warden of Inverness.

MacIsaac spent the weekend coordinating the effort in her community, which was hit particularly hard. She said some people had to drive 30 minutes to find an open gas station to help fuel their generators.

"It's going to take weeks for some of these roads to be fixed to where they need to be."

While emergency workers were focusing on roads and restoring power, the fire department auxiliary got to work making sure everyone had food and a warm place to go on Sunday.

Volunteer cooks at comfort centre

Joan MacIsaac and three others spent hours on their feet cooking for 70 families at a comfort centre, even though she didn't have power in her own home for more than 24 hours.

Ice and freezing rain caused trees and power poles to freeze and snap in parts of Cape Breton on Sunday. (Submitted by Alyssa Basker)

"After the last ice storm, we knew that people had a real need for going somewhere safe to get warm and have something hot," she said.

"Some people came back a second time for supper. We sent a lot of food out, too."

Bonny MacIsaac said people have been working day and night to clean up the trees and reconnect the power.

"A lot of these roads have businesses on them and it's been super challenging in the last year as you know with COVID. Here they are, barely hanging on, and it's quite a deterrent if you don't have a road that's fit to be travelled on."

It was a frustrating setback for the community. Last weekend, Inverness had several washouts from flooding. Those roads had just been fixed when the Easter storm hit.

"Now it's like every rain storm coming, are we still going to be going backwards instead of forwards because we can't get things fixed the way they should be fixed?" she said. 

Money for repairs

MacIsaac said she's now going to turn her efforts toward asking the provincial government for help. She's already been in touch with the Emergency Management Office and is working on a list of things she wants repaired.

She believes much of the damage was preventable.

Trees are seen majorly damaged at this house on the corner of Route 19 in Cape Breton near the St. John's United Church on April 5, 2021 after a weekend ice storm. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"The last two weekends we've had flooding in certain areas because of overgrown ditches, clogged culverts. That's all about the budgets that were given here from the department of highways."

Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation said it will respond to MacIsaac's concerns on Tuesday. She said she'll be speaking out until something gets done to prevent more damage in her community.