As crews race to restore power to parts of rural Cape Breton, some businesses owners in Marion Bridge say the damage is already done.

Carol Church owns the only grocery store in the area and had been without power for nearly 50 hours -- despite getting it back for a short time Wednesday morning.  

"We lost all of our fresh meat showcase," said Church. "We lost all of our dairy case, which included milk and cheese. In the thousands of dollars. It's a lot of money for a small business."

Across the street, a generator is working overtime to help power parts of a seniors complex.

Many residents, though, have gone without power since Saturday.

Geraldine MacLean lost all of her food, which now sits in a waste bin out back.

"It's very frustrating," MacLean said.

The Salvation Army was busy today distributing hot meals to people who are still without power.

"If you don't have food and water, those are you basic essentials of life, so that's our goals to meet the basic needs of our community," said Nicole MacLean of the Salvation Army. "We're focusing mainly on the rural areas that don't have access to the comfort centres."

Members of the Canadian military and reservists also assisted people in Marion Bridge, Isle Madame and eastern parts of Nova Scotia today. By late afternoon there were fewer than 3,000 Nova Scotia Power customers without electricity in Cape Breton, part of what is taking time is how widespread damaged infrastructure is.

"We didn't expect this today," Church said. "We thought we would be up and running and booming business. But that's not the way it is today."

By late afternoon Church says the power was back on, but the insurance claims are just beginning.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore.