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Margaretsville crew works hard to clear giant poplars downed by Dorian


MARGARETSVILLE, N.S. —

Stately old poplars on a scenic lane down to cottages on the Bay of Fundy got caught in Dorian’s embrace Sept. 7, falling one after the other to leave local residents without power for almost a week.

Three of them fell across powerlines in the driveway Saturday afternoon, pulling down lines on Seaman Street and snapping a power pole in two.

Eric McLaughlin, Carl Spidell, and Chris Spidell were out with chainsaws Sept. 11 cutting off limbs and junking the trees up so Nova Scotia Power crews could get in to fix or replace poles and get the lines back up.

McLaughlin owns Eric McLaughlin Roofing and Construction. This isn’t the usual kind of work they do, but the Spidell brothers have worked in the woods all their lives and know what they’re doing.

While it wasn’t the only tree to rip down lines in Margaretsville, McLaughlin said it was the first one. He’s also the local fire chief and firefighters were called to the scene when it happened.

“This was the first one that put the power out,” McLaughlin said. “The big tree down the other side of the fire hall was the second one that we got called to and it just started going from there.”

He was dealing with the smaller limbs and hauling them out of the way before tackling the big ones and the massive trunks.

“They’re a hundred years old, I’m guessing,” McLaughlin said.

They’ve stood there all his lifetime.

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He’s just cutting the trees up. Loads of dirt will be needed to fill the holes and the big stumps will need to be pulled out.

“That’ll be somebody else. An excavator to get rid of the stumps,” he said. “We’re just doing the light work. Basically cleaning it up for them to get in and out of the driveway. They can bring in some heavy equipment and the power company won’t have to do quite so much to clean it up, or the people they bring with them.”

It’s late Wednesday afternoon, and power won’t be restored to Margaretsville until 11:15 a.m. the next day.

Carl Spidell works on the tree next to the one McLaughlin is dealing with. His brother Chris Spidell is making quick work of the one closest to the road. There’s a pole pulled over to a 45-degree angle. Somewhere in the tangle of wire and branches are a couple of white Adirondack chairs that seem to be no worse for wear.

Chris Spidell pulls out a tape and measures the diameter of the tree he’s working on.

“Twenty-eight inches across,” he said. “And that’s 12 feet up from the butt.”

He admits it can be dangerous. The massive trees are held up off the ground by branches and one wrong cut could bring the whole thing down on top of him. Stumps have been known to stand back up when the tree is cut through, and the tension on the supporting branches is unimaginable.

The bar on Chris Spidell’s saw isn’t actually long enough to go through the tree trunk, so he cuts from one side and then the other.

It’s a scene playing out all over Annapolis County as people work to get trees off homes, lines, cars, sheds. Dorian’s damage has been extensive. Margretsville got it bad.

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