Nova Scotia

'6 guys, 6 chainsaws': How Annapolis Royal roads stayed clear during Dorian

When Dorian roared through Annapolis Royal, N.S., on Saturday, downing trees in its wake, some local volunteer firefighters had one mission on their minds: keeping the roads clear of trees and debris.

'We just went to town until 11 o'clock that night,' fire chief says

Crews use chainsaws to cut down trees that were downed during Dorian over the weekend at DeWolf Park in Bedford, N.S. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Roads in Annapolis Royal, N.S., stayed mostly clear during Dorian thanks to six volunteer firefighters who decided to chainsaw trees and clear debris during the storm on Saturday.

"Six guys, six chainsaws. We were mustering up all the power we could," said Andrew Cranton, fire chief of the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department.

He said volunteers from the Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown fire departments headed out into the hurricane after the province's Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department pulled its fleet off the road.

Cranton said he saw power poles coming out of the ground vertically because of the strong wind.

"We probably shouldn't have, but to ensure the safety of the community and our communities, we opened up most of the roads that we could with chainsaws, six guys and two trucks," he said.

"We just went to town until 11 o'clock that night and we had most of the roads open in our area and we felt secure that we could actually go to bed that night."

The motivating factor, Cranton said, was thinking about people who potentially needed an ambulance that night and the challenges a downed tree could pose for getting to a person in need.

"That could be someone's life," he said.

As for the work itself, Cranton said it was tough chainsawing trees during a full-on storm.

A downed tree as a result of Dorian blocked a street in Halifax on Monday. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"It's funny, you're trying to stand up straight and you're trying to do your job, all at the same time with the wind blowing and the rain literally going sideways," he said.

"It was incredible. You could stand 30 feet away from a chainsaw and still get saw chips all over you."

But no one complained, even though everyone was soaking wet and cold. Cranton said the teamwork between the two volunteer fire departments was key that night.

"They jumped back in the truck and they just said, 'Let's get going, let's find the next one, let's get this done.' And I commend my guys and the Bridgetown guys, they pulled together so excellently," Cranton said.

With files from Carolyn Ray


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