Nova Scotia

Cleanup continues in Nova Scotia after massive multi-day winter storm

Schools, offices and non-essential businesses remain closed today in hard-hit Cape Breton as crews attempt to make headway clearing snow-covered streets following a historic multi-day storm that pummelled parts of Nova Scotia.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is under a local state of emergency after the low-pressure system dumped 150 centimetres of snow in some areas. Other communities from Halifax to the island were hit with anywhere from 40 to 100 centimetres.

Premier Tim Houston has warned it could be days before some rural roads are cleared, but help is on its way from New Brunswick and P.E.I. The federal government is also providing assistance with snow-clearing gear from Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

There were only about 1,000 Nova Scotia Power customers still in the dark Tuesday morning, but some restoration times aren’t until Wednesday afternoon.

Cape Breton Regional Police Const. Gary Fraser said the main roads in CBRM are mostly clear and passable, while some side roads are starting to open up.

Maritimes dig out from more than a metre of snow

A relentless three-day blizzard has buried parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in up to 150 cm of snow, prompting local states of emergency and a call for help going out to other provinces and the federal government.

He said people should stay off the roads, unless they absolutely must travel.

“We’re getting calls for drives, to and from hospitals and other businesses, by employees,” Fraser told CBC’s Information Morning Cape Breton. “We have to stress that we can’t transport people to and from their place of business and tie up our resources.”

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Guy Deveau, executive director of maintenance and operations with the provincial Department of Public Works, said most roads cleared by provincial plows will be open later Tuesday tonight or Wednesday morning.

However, it might be Friday before isolated, gravel roads are plowed.

“A road with significant drifting can take a lot more time than expected,” Deveau told Information Morning Cape Breton.

Fuel shortage

John Phalen, CBRM’s manager of public works, said some gas stations in the Sydney area are running out of fuel.

He said the bulk plant where the municipality gets its diesel from has been closed since Friday.

“We’ve got some fuel that’s in storage that we’re using, but that’s all being depleted now,” he told Information Morning Cape Breton. “We’re using a lot of fuel for this operation.”

Don’t forget to look up

As cleanup continues around much of the province, it may also be a good idea to look up and check your roof.

Gloria Haydock, manager of consumer and industry relations for Atlantic Canada with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said freezing and melting can get underneath singles.

“It starts lifting the shingle and then as it starts melting again it seeps down into your home,” said Haydock.

Haydock said outbuildings like barns and sheds are most vulnerable to collapsing from heavy snow.

That was the case on Michael Ludlow’s property on Monday in Broughton, N.S. — at least one of his barns, which was vacant, partially collapsed.

Cape Breton residents dig out their cars, doorways and roofs

Watch what some residents are dealing with after historic snowfall in Cape Breton.

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“People have got to be very careful going into barns. I’m looking at anywhere from five to six feet on the barns out here,” Lodlow told Information Morning Cape Breton.

Peter Keefe, the Atlantic director of operations for First Onsite Property Restoration, said it is important to have a professional remove the snow on your roof to avoid injury. He said a buildup can cause leaking and structural damage.

“Sometimes people don’t notice the damage to the trusses … until maybe somebody pops up there in the springtime and they notice it,” said Keefe. “But it can be a real significant amount of damage to a property.”

Keefe said insurance losses for weather-related events were record breaking last year, with losses exceeding $3 billion across the country. That includes Nova Scotia’s devastating wildfires and flooding events.

Breaking down Nova Scotia snowfall totals

Meteorologist Ryan Snoddon says volunteer observers in Cape Breton reported 150 centimetres of snow in the Sydney area.

But crews will be ready in the spring, he said.

“We are actually starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Keefe said. “We definitely do have the ability to come and service people if they do have issues with the resulting damage from an event like this.”

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