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N.S. wildfire evacuees find comfort in one another and the generosity of their community

Evacuees at the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena in Barrington, N.S., are out of the fire zone but now face their own battle — how to cope with so much uncertainty, and what lies ahead.

“I’m terrified to the bones that we lose our house ,but until now, it’s OK,” said Julie Jeschke, who left her home in Eel Bay in a rush Sunday.

“We hope and pray for rain,” she said.

The evacuees who’ve been turning to the arena for food, clothing or conversation are as young as 5-years-old-and as old as 99. Donald Stocker falls into the latter category.

Fire forced the 99-year-old out of his home in Port LaTour. His positive attitude has brought a lot of inspiration to other evacuees.

“Keep up hope that everything turns out okay,” Stocker said.

Sadly, many people like Paul Locke already know of his new reality. His home is gone.

“My wife -- she’s not taking it too good. I have days that I haven’t been taking it very good either,” Locke said. “My nerves are getting bad.”

Roger Atwood, who’s also an evacuee, took Locke and his wife in at the home where they’re staying.

“I found he didn’t have anywhere to stay so I went and got home, took him with us,” Atwood said.

He was home when the fire was on the move.

“It sounded like a freight train. It’s just roaring,” he said.

Atwood has since seen pictures of his home and heard water was dropped on it – but doesn’t know much else.

CTV News asked him what keeps him going.

“Hopes, the wife, other people,” Atwood said. “I cry a lot. Can’t help it.”

In many spots, homes still stand. Police escorted paramedic Paula Sutherland from Barrington to her home in Clyde River.

“Homes are safe on the 103. People that I know, I’ve already messaged them and told them and sent them pictures of their homes,” Sutherland said. “Past my house, I can’t answer that, I don’t know.”

She praised the firefighters.

“The strength that they have to save our houses is unbelievable,” she said.

The Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena is full of donated food and clothing. It has also offered evacuees a lot of comfort at a time of need.

Shaun Hatfield, a councillor with the Municipality of Barrington and a minister, said the arena is a metaphor of human love.

“The community has wide-open hands. There’s nothing that anyone needs here that if they ask for it, it’s not theirs, and I’m talking about everything from homes to wallets to material resources, whatever a neighbour needs, it’s given freely with an open hand,” Hatfield said.

“People are so giving. Walmart has given, given and given. Sobeys. No Frills. It’s just too many to name that have given,” said Sutherland.

“Restaurants. People walking in here with food, bags of food, bags of clothing.”

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