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Fiona cleanup volunteers finish up in Cape Breton


As the Maritimes enter the peak of hurricane season, there was an event on Thursday to mark the end of the cleanup of destruction left by Fiona nearly a year ago.

This month the Mennonite Disaster Service officially finished their work on the island.

“Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart I don't know what I would've done without you,” said Lynne McCarron, executive director of United Way Cape Breton.

More than 200 families benefited from the service, by nearly 500 volunteers.

Fixing roofs, cleaning up debris, and making other repairs was some of the work done over eight months.

“Weather was a big challenge. We're not used to working consistently in 60 to 70 km/h winds and this was kind of a new experience for me,” said Roman Heuft, the Cape Breton response coordinator for the Mennonite Disaster Service.

The Mennonites say they were not able to get all of the work done because of a lack of skilled labourers.

“We were short professional roofers, and there were a lot of dangerous roofs in this area with 12, 14, 16, pitch roofs and we can't send our regular volunteers on that,” said Heuft.

With a new hurricane season now underway there is worry about what could happen next, and whether we're ready.

“One thing we did learn during Fiona was those bureaucratic processes don’t allow for the assistance you need in the moment, so having side conversations saying we’re ready despite the process, have to happen unfortunately,” said Amanda McDougall-Merrill, Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayor.

Ross Penner, The executive director of the Mennonites is not closing the door on returning, if they're needed, but says there's a lot of work and help needed in the rest of the country right now with fires and flooding.

“We’re shaking in our boots a little bit because there's so much need in this coming year and it frequently takes a lot of time for a community to be ready for us,” he said.

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