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Port Lorne community gives back to retired fisherman after house fire

A work crew comprised of volunteers met at the home of retired fisherman Gordon Mitchell in Port Lorne Sept. 15 to repair some of the damage done by a dangerous and destructive fire that broke out May 19.
A work crew comprised of volunteers met at the home of retired fisherman Gordon Mitchell in Port Lorne Sept. 15 to repair some of the damage done by a dangerous and destructive fire that broke out May 19. - Contributed

PORT LORNE, N.S. - One often hears story after story of bad news somewhere in the world.

But every now and again, a good news story appears that reassures us that human beings are still looking out for one another.

Port Lorne is a tiny village on the Bay of Fundy where neighbours care about one another and reach out to offer a helping hand when needed. This was the case recently when a local retired fisherman had the misfortune of a house fire May 19.

Gordon Mitchell tried valiantly to extinguish the flames in the second level of his home before local firefighters arrived. But, it was neighbour Elmer Lewis who found Mitchell unconscious at the bottom of the staircase and hauled him from the burning building to safety.

With burns to the face, arms and esophagus, Mitchell was quickly transported to Soldiers Memorial Hospital by ambulance, and then airlifted to Halifax where he was treated in the burn unit and later underwent surgery.

Fortunately, Port Lorne’s local volunteer fire department was able to bring the fire under control and saved Mitchell’s home.

After leaving the hospital, Mitchell boarded with next door neighbour Betty Hickman while he was recovering. Although one could not ask for a kinder friend and more wonderful cook than her, he longed for his own house.

During daytime hours he could be found recovering what he could from the smoke and water-damaged main floor and removing debris from his home. No longer able to work as a fisherman due to arthritis and other health problems, he laboured with one arm in a sling, never complaining.

It was time for the community to step in to help with a renovation and building project - and on Sept. 15 a volunteer group comprised mostly of seniors went to work.

Lunch was supplied by the ladies of the village. Tackling the end windows on the second floor that had been blown out by the fire was no easy task with lots of hard work tearing out the old frames and burnt wood, but the men did a great job. No rain or snow will get in those windows now.

With lots of work for the volunteer crew yet to finish on the badly damaged second level interior, Mitchell knows his home will once again be comfortable. Still able to smile and never complaining, he is grateful to his friends near and far who have come out to help. A crew from nearby Bridgetown is expected to repair the roof so all will be watertight before winter.

The tide still comes in twice a day in Port Lorne, just as gradually Mitchell is getting his home back.

Commonly known as Gordie, the retired fisherman enjoys making his own homemade pickles and telling stories. He is known to his friends as a man who would do anything for anyone. Now the community is giving back to him.

How to help

Although donations have come in, fundraising continues as much remains to be done to the interior of the home. Those wishing to help may donate by contacting the Port Lorne United Baptist Church in care of treasurer, Bill Linley, at 902-584-3003.

- Story by Marilynn Linley

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