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Tara Babcock in her ruined living room after Hurricane Fiona.

“It felt like the roof was going to come right off.” That’s how Tara Babcock described the night Hurricane Fiona struck her home in Sydney, Cape Breton.

As it was, the storm—which hit September 24, last year—tore shingles off the roof and blew in the front door. Rain poured into the holes, soaking the ceilings and walls.

“It was pretty scary,” she said, staring up at the collapsed ceiling in her living room.

She and her partner, Michael MacPherson, were upstairs when that happened. “We were lucky not to be there or it would have fallen on us,” she said.

Today the house has a new roof, thanks to MDS volunteers, and soon more will be coming to repair the inside of the house—gutting it and repairing walls and ceilings upstairs and in the living room.

“It feels terrific to know people are coming to help,” said Tara, who is studying culinary arts at a nearby college. “I won’t be able to thank them enough, from the bottom of my heart.”

Tara is just one of a number of homeowners in Cape Breton who have been helped by MDS. Since March 76 volunteers from across Canada have served there, most for one week but some for eight weeks. A total of 39 jobs are on the list; to date, 11 have been completed.

Also on the list is Doug Delaney, also of Sydney. When the storm hit it knocked down five huge trees in his backyard; four of them landed on his roof, allowing the rain to pour in.

“It was heartbreaking,” he said of the damage. “The rain soaked the ceilings, the walls, the insulation. It made a real mess. It was just devastating.”

Last fall, MDS volunteers cut away the downed trees and helped him gut the house, right down to the studs. In early March volunteers installed a new metal roof. Now more volunteers are coming to restore the house for Doug and his partner, Paulette Adams, and their two small children.

Doug Delaney surveys his gutted home in Cape Breton.

For Doug, who works as a custodian at a local elementary school, the help is welcome; unable to afford insurance, he thought he would have to fix it up on his own.

“I just kept picking at it best I could,” he said, noting they are living in an apartment until their house is repaired.

“We are happy to be helping people like Tara and Michael and Doug and Paulette get their houses repaired and get back home,” said Roman Heuft, Response Coordinator for MDS in Cape Breton. “That’s why we are here.”

MDS still needs volunteers this summer in Cape Breton, for the weeks of June 11-17; June 25-July 1; July 30-August 5; August 27-Sept. 2; and Sept. 3-9. Contact Clara Flores at cflores@mds.org if you want to sign up or visit www.mds.org


John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications

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