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Hard hit by storm, Pictou County digging its way out

People dig out greenhouses at West River Greenhouses in Pictou County. (Galen McRae/CBC - image credit)
People dig out greenhouses at West River Greenhouses in Pictou County. (Galen McRae/CBC - image credit)

Pictou County has made significant progress in cleaning up after last weekend's winter storm that left parts of the county impassable and trapped residents in their homes, according to the municipality's warden.

Robert Parker said heavy equipment in use in the area has led to a significant improvement.

Parker said Premier Tim Houston promised him all of the roads in the area would have at least one pass of a snowplow by midnight Thursday.

"That doesn't mean they're passable," Parker said. "That just means there's one pass through them."

Parker said it does mean there is a "better chance" to get vehicles into some places in case of emergency.

Warden Robert Parker represents the Municipality of Pictou County
Warden Robert Parker represents the Municipality of Pictou County

Warden Robert Parker represents the Municipality of Pictou County. (CBC)

Parker said a helpline would operate all weekend for people who needed non-emergency assistance.

According to Parker, the province organized 10 snowmobiles with crews to respond to any residents in the municipality who needed medical supplies or other assistance. This includes snow shovelling for seniors who were unable to clear their doors or walkways.

Parker said he hadn't heard of any structural damage to buildings caused by the snow but the municipality's focus has been on opening up the roads and ensuring people have the supplies.

Asked if the municipality was monitoring for the possibility of damaged fuel lines in the wake of an explosion at a seniors' housing complex on Friday. Parker said officials were available to inspect and assist homeowners.

He said snow falling off roofs could potentially rupture the oil lines connected to homes and that possibility was being watched closely by the municipality.

An email from the premier's office on Saturday said Team Rubicon has two crews in Pictou County assisting with relief efforts.

Jim Ryan is the mayor of the town of Pictou.
Jim Ryan is the mayor of the town of Pictou.

Jim Ryan is the mayor of the Town of Pictou. (Robert Short/CBC)

According to Jim Ryan, mayor of the Town of Pictou, all of the roads in the town are open and clear.

Ryan said the first job next week will be to knock down some of the big piles of snow at intersections to improve visibility, and to clear sidewalks.

He said the town concentrated on clearing the downtown area first and most of the businesses were able to open a day or two after the storm.

Town residents have been patient with the snow clearing efforts, Ryan said, noting that the town has done a good job with a small crew.

Parker said residents of the municipality have been patient but they have their limits.

"Everybody's doing everything they can but that doesn't mean that people's frustration doesn't grow when you're locked in your home," he said.

"The best we can do is get supplies into them in the meantime until either provincial or whatever level of government, in our case municipal, can help them in some way."

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