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Trapped for 5 day as water dwindled, Cape Breton couple thankful for snowmobile delivery

Samantha Lowes and her spouse Darryl Boudreau and their two young children had their picture taken with the Department of Natural Resources snowmobile used to deliver water, food and fuel to the family in Dutch Brook, a rural community outside Sydney, N.S., on Wednesday.  (Submitted by Samantha Lowes - image credit)
Samantha Lowes and her spouse Darryl Boudreau and their two young children had their picture taken with the Department of Natural Resources snowmobile used to deliver water, food and fuel to the family in Dutch Brook, a rural community outside Sydney, N.S., on Wednesday. (Submitted by Samantha Lowes - image credit)

A Cape Breton couple is thankful after receiving supplies by snowmobile after going nearly five days without power or water.

Samantha Lowes and her spouse Darryl Boudreau live in Dutch Brook, a rural community on the outskirts of Sydney.

Lowes said her house lost power on Saturday evening after a days-long storm brought as much as 150 centimeters of snow to some areas in her community.

Thanks to a wood stove and a large generator purchased following an 11-day power outage after post-tropical storm Fiona, the family was able to stay warm throughout the week.

But by the middle of the week, they were running out of drinking water needed to feed their two young children, aged two months and 18 months.

"By Wednesday, we were kind of in an emergency situation without water," said Lowes.

"It's not a good feeling to wonder if you're going to be able to feed your baby through the night so we were honestly in tears."

After a week of being forced to stay indoors, many residents may be starting to feel a heightening sense of being trapped.
After a week of being forced to stay indoors, many residents may be starting to feel a heightening sense of being trapped.

After a week of being forced to stay indoors, many residents may be starting to feel a heightening sense of being trapped. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

Lowes reached out to her municipal representative for help.

District 7 councillor for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Steve Parsons, said the call for help from Lowes isn't the only one he's received in recent days.

"Today I'm actually going to a lady's house now who can't get out and she needs her prescription and I'm going to go down to her pharmacy, pick it up for her and deliver it to her," said Parsons.

"We will get this cleaned up and we will get through it. We're strong-hearted people and everybody has a role to play."

After calling the municipality's Emergency Management Office, Lowes and her family were connected with the province's Department of Natural Resources.

Two conservation officers arrived at their property Wednesday after driving through some areas with snow drifts more than two metres high.

"It was very humbling to make that call in tears that I couldn't get through the night to feed our babies," said Lowes.

"So I really, from the bottom of my heart, want to thank them. My spouse and I are so grateful that they were able to so quickly pull the team together to get [supplies] into us."

Isolation can have mental health impacts

For those still isolated following the snowfall, feelings of dread and sadness might be creeping upon them.

A Halifax researcher said studies done during the COVID-19 pandemic show that extended periods of being forced to stay home can have negative impacts on a person's mental health.

"I would be particularly concerned about those who have pre-existing mental health problems," said Dr. Simon Sherry, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Dalhousie University.

"If, prior to this massive snowstorm and the isolation that brought, you were wrestling with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, it's likely that this past week has resulted in a worsening, an exacerbation of those symptoms."

Simon Sherry is a clinical psychologist and professor at Dalhousie University.
Simon Sherry is a clinical psychologist and professor at Dalhousie University.

Simon Sherry is a clinical psychologist and professor at Dalhousie University. He said he has concerns about people who have pre-existing mental health problems. (CBC)

He said similar effects were reported during other natural disasters in recent years, including storm Fiona in 2022 and last year's wildfires on mainland Nova Scotia.

In Cape Breton, others who were snowed-in said they experienced feelings of distress after multiple days stuck in their homes.

"You can't go anywhere, we couldn't get out to my in-laws to help them or other family that were snowed in," said Holly Chisholm, who lives in Sydney Mines, N.S.

Drone footage captured storm-covered Cape Breton.
Drone footage captured storm-covered Cape Breton.

Drone footage taken in Cape Breton during the recent snowstorm. (adamhillphoto/Instagram)

"So that was kind of frustrating and probably took us a day to come to terms with that fact that, you know, we just have to, like, stick it out and be safe."

Sherry said people who are feeling a sense of dread or sadness during times like this may feel better if they focus on something else.

"One key way you can do that is by not sitting brooding and ruminating. Depression loves inactivity," he said. "Depression comes to your couch where it festers and grows. So I would get up and do things with purpose. Get up, take action, and live out your values."

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