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How to help your community after Hurricane Fiona

Parts of northern and eastern Nova Scotia continue to grapple with power outages, cellular, telephone and internet disruptions, and severe damages following Hurricane Fiona – one of the most severe weather systems to ever hit Nova Scotia.You may be wondering what practical things you can do to help out others during this stressful time. Here are some things to think about:

Check on your neighbours
You may have power back on, but your neighbours may not. Check in with them and find out if they need some help getting essentials or contacting loved ones. This is especially important for older and disabled people in your community, who may be separated from their friends and family members. Even once power is restored, they may still need help getting food, water and other necessities, or cleaning out their fridge and freezer.

There are temporary comfort centres located in fire halls and community centres across northern and eastern Nova Scotia where people can access hot meals and showers, charge devices and use the internet. Community groups and local restaurants have also stepped up to feed people. In addition, the community resource agency 211 Nova Scotia can help people find food, shelter and other local support.

Remember: It’s normal for people to feel overwhelmed and stressed right now – the storm has destroyed homes, properties, harbours and livelihoods in its wake, and uprooted people from their routines.

Don’t put yourself in danger
If you can safely do so, offer to help clean up the mess, including removing branches and yard debris. Only use a chainsaw if you’re trained to do so and have the appropriate safety equipment (including gloves, steel-toed boots, plus eye and ear protection). Stay away from downed power lines, places where crews are working and areas that are being cleared of trees.

It’s not the time to be sightseeing in parks, coastlines and other areas that suffered significant damage – you are a danger to yourself and to others who are trying to clear these spaces. Steer clear and let the cleanup crews do their work.

Support community groups
If you’d like to provide more hands-on support to others, consider volunteering at your local legion, community centre, food bank or soup kitchen – these organizations can always use extra hands (or food or financial donations) during crises and afterward.

It’s going to take time before communities can recover from the devastation of this storm. But work will soon begin to rebuild community parks, structures and trails. Consider getting involved with your local trail building or hiking group to help get things back on track. Always wait until you receive the go-ahead from these groups before you head out.

If you have the means to do so, consider donating to an organization in your community. The Canadian Red Cross has also set up a Hurricane Fiona campaign and is matching all donations until Oct. 23.

Disaster quick links
Hurricane Fiona support
Disaster financial assistance for non-profits
211 Nova Scotia
Emergency alerts and information
Emergency and disaster preparedness
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning