10 SEP 2019: Well, what a weekend. We knew it was going to be serious when all grocery store shelves were devoid of “storm chips” (it’s a Maritime thing: big storm coming, lay in the potato chips) and the provincial liquor stores closed at noon Saturday. My power went out at 1 pm. My niece in Yarmouth lost hers at 10 am.

In anticipation of the hurricane I charged up cameras, phone, laptop, tablet, as well as spare batteries for the technology. And what happened? The cell towers were hit and that service went down in many areas. I also have a landline, but I have FibreOp service from Bell (for phone, internet and cable) and after three hours my landline died because it needs the battery to operate. Bell doesn’t tell you that. If you live in a rural area, cell service can be sketchy as can internet service IF you have it.

A great many of us were cut off after three hours into an 18-hour storm attack. It was like being in a Third World country. When you’re in the middle of such a storm you know nothing beyond what you can see. The CBC's coverage almost seemed on auto-pilot. My little battery-operated radio (it has a crank for back-up) carried the same few voices repeating the same things hour after hour.

I learned that the CBC is shore-centric. Their coverage was focused on the South Shore, Halifax and Eastern Shore, with references to Cape Breton and Antigonish and Pictou.The Annapolis Valley, which is Nova Scotia’s wine country, was ignored.

Two days after the hurricane we’re now learning that farmers have lost 20-50% of their apple crop. No word yet on the vineyards. We heard about warming centres in Halifax, but no mention of them outside the city. This is where the municipalities and towns fell down.

I lost power for 24 hours. Prior to the loss of power, people were commenting on having a pile of books to read, but by what light? Candles can be romanic when you’re with someone, but alone you’re focused on not burning down the house. And in reality, candlelight is too weak to read by.

There were a few gunshot sounds when trees broke. Our property lost four. A Sumac, on the front yard which had died, finally collapsed. In the backyard, three trees which lined the property also fell. One was about five stories high. It snapped off about three metres up the trunk and took down two neighbouring trees. One of the neighbour’s two drives was blocked by branches from her tree.

Sunday, as I walked the property looking at the damage, one of the neighbours said we weren’t scheduled to get power back until 10 pm Monday! I drove across the village and found an open restaurant - at the Irving Garage - so I could have a hot meal. There were line ups for those seeking a hot meal as well a line of vehicles hoping for gas. In fact there were so many vehicles trying to get to the pumps, the garage had a type of concierge, waving various vehicles to a shorter line or best pump for them. When I returned from lunch I subconsciously flicked the light switch and it worked! What joy. I then went through the house turning off everything that had been on when the power failed. I was almost giddy to have power again, to click on the web, to make tea and have a hot shower.

Prior to Dorian’s arrival I joked that I had sufficient red wine (which doesn’t need to be chilled) to get me through 72 hours without power. I also confessed to a substantial stock of premium whisky and small batch rum to a prolonged period. But without even phone service I dared not drink in case I had to drive someone in need.

Monday afternoon I went through my refrigerator and freezer deciding what must go.

The frustration of a situation like this is that government and utilities and even media advise you that for more information to go to their website. But without electricity and mobile service how can you? As of Monday afternoon there are still 200,000 addresses in Nova Scotia without power.

Post Dorian, all schools in the province are closed for at least two days. Government offices are open if they have power. There is no mail service. Many restaurants are closed while they wait for power to be restored and sort out what food has spoiled. There’s also a gas shortage since a number of stations are closed because they either don’t have power to pump gas or are sold out of gas. Those stations which are open, are running low because people are filling vehicles and buying addition fuel for home generators.

In Southwestern Nova Scotia, which comprises Hants, Kings, Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg countries, only two towns - Kentville and Yarmouth - are reported to have open gas stations. Whatever you buy, be prepared to pay cash since not all merchants’ payment systems are working.
The other weird occurrence is the uneven traffic lights. Some lights are working. Some flash red only. Others are dark so drivers need to be patient and operate on an every fourth vehicle rotation.
My other surprise realization is how exhausting a power outage can be.

It’s like jet lag without the travel.

Storm chips quickly sell out!



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