Tropical storm Arthur knocks out power in Digby but not the Lobster Bash

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on July 7, 2014

Post-tropical storm Arthur knocked out power to all of Digby County, toppled a lot of trees and branches but it couldn’t stop the second annual Lobster Bash.

The storm knocked out power to 140,000 customers in Nova Scotia Saturday, July 5 and people in Digby County didn’t start getting power back until late Sunday.

As of press time Monday 2,620 customers in Digby County were still waiting to be hooked up.

Bear River Fire Chief Darryl Jelfs said Arthur was worse than Hurricane Juan or White Juan – storms which battered Nova Scotia in September 2003 and February 2004.

“Conditions were worse in this area than during Juan or White Juan,” said Jelfs on Monday morning. “We have had more trees down on lines and more roads blocked and the outage looks worse.

“We might not have power in Bear River area until Tuesday night, maybe Wednesday.”

Jelfs and the rest of the Bear River Fire Department were called out about 11 a.m. Saturday, just as the power was going out, and then didn’t return to the station until 7:30 p.m. that night.

“We were rerouted from call to call through dispatch for trees across the road, trees on power poles, snapped power poles, we had alarms sounding in Cornwallis,” said Jelfs.

The department had 16 calls over the weekend, most of them on the Annapolis side of their coverage area and most of them Saturday.

Jelfs said his big focus, working alongside Nova Scotia Power and the Department of Transportation crews, was keeping roads open in case of serious emergencies.

Thankfully none were reported in Digby County.

Weymouth Fire Chief Roy Mullen said they didn’t haven any calls until the power came back on Sunday night and all were relatively minor.

“The last one, we had a tree on fire where it was touching wires,” he said. “We stayed there an hour and a half but the branch burned through and fell off, so we went home.”

Digby Fire Chief Robert Morgan says they had three calls Saturday, seven Sunday and one at 2 a.m. on Monday.

“It was busy but nothing major,” he said.

Westport fire chief Wally DeVries said Monday it was a rough weekend.

“And it’s not over yet,” he said as he waited for power to come back on. “Your guess is as good as mine when it will be over.”

DeVries said they also had a few minor calls but the biggest worry was an ambulance call while the phones and dispatch system were down.

He managed to radio Digby dispatch to send the ambulance.

He said most of the wind hit the back of the island and the ferries were able to keep running.

“I know because people kept coming for gas,” he said.

DeVries also runs the general store on the Brier Island and says people from Long Island starting coming over after the store in Tiverton ran out.

DeVries had to insist only one person fill up and pay at a time because people were so crowded around the pumps that staff were losing track of who pumped what.

DeVries ran out of gas Sunday afternoon and Monday morning when people saw the gas truck coming over on the ferry, the line up started again at the pumps.

Cars were lined up at the Weymouth Irving for gas as well and other people tried their luck in two-hour line ups in Lequille.

Saturday morning many people in Digby County were thinking the storm had passed them by.

Almost 80 people ran around the Racquette for the Lobster Bash Mud Dash and didn’t get seriously wet until Arthur let loose during the awards ceremonies about 12:30 p.m.

The Lobster Bash had moved most events to the rink Friday and Saturday and then turned into a sort of warming centre for people Saturday night.

“People were coming in just to get something eat Saturday,” said the Lobster Bash president Phil Robertson. “We sold lobster chowder and lobster rolls all night steady.”

Robertson says a hard-working board with a helpful community kept the second annual Lobster Bash going.

“A hurricane came and we went to the rink, the power went out and we got generators, we went downtown Sunday and the cellphones stopped working, but we kept’er rolling,” he said. “If a tornado had come down the street Sunday, it wouldn’t have surprised me.”

According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, tropical storm Arthur merged with a cold front, which instead of diminishing, the storm’s energy spread out, battering most of the Maritimes for more than 24 hours.

What affected western Nova Scotia was a “sting jet,” the CHC says, or strong winds just left, or west, of the storm’s centre.

Arthur was “exceptional” in how much of an effect the northwest winds had, both in the Fredericton area and the Valley, the centre said.

Maximum wind gusts in km/h

Greenwood          138

Brier Island        128

Yarmouth            111

Lunenburg           108