Powerful partnerships for hurricane relief

When Hurricane Fiona was forecasted to hit Nova Scotia directly, many had prepared. Folks across the province stocked up on water, non-perishable food, fuel for the generator, cell phone charging blocks, and of course, storm chips. But when the storm hit east of Halifax on September 24, the devastation was well beyond what many people could prepare for.

For Nova Scotians living in poverty or on low incomes, the storm was especially devastating. Many couldn’t afford to restock their fridges and freezers after extended power outages, missed days of work because of cleanup efforts, and lost connection with loved ones and supports. In huge swaths of the province, trees were uprooted and houses and buildings sustained significant damage.

Emera and Nova Scotia Power quickly realized there was a way they could help – by working with United Ways in affected areas to establish the United Hurricane Relief Fund.

Long-time Partners

Emera and Nova Scotia Power employees have been involved with United Way through workplace campaigns and volunteer efforts for years. Their workplace and corporate gifts are part of what makes stable, multi-year funding through the Community Fund possible. When they approached United Way Halifax to get an emergency fund off the ground to help our most vulnerable residents, it solidified the importance of collaboration.

Emera and Nova Scotia Power kicked off the fund with $250,000 on September 30, 2022 to help the areas most affected by the hurricane. United Ways in Halifax, Colchester and Cumberland Counties, Pictou County and Cape Breton worked to identify needs. Emera and Nova Scotia Power leveraged their relationships to bring other donors on board. The effect was nearly immediate, with initial grants going out to the community within a week.


Food, Fuel and other basic needs

Food was identified as a need very quickly. Many individuals and families weren’t able to replace food spoiled during power outages. A number of community agencies handed out grocery gift cards to program participants. Others came together to make freezer meals, pack grocery bags or stock food pantries. A school program in Pictou County was able to access funding to replenish their breakfast and weekend backpack program. This program serves many marginalized students and was able to provide 113 hot lunches and 50 turkey dinners to families when they had no electricity at home.

Many people were able to borrow generators, but the cost of fuel presented another challenge. Gift cards for gas helped people living in poverty in Cumberland County ensure their food did not spoil and provided some freedom and comfort.

In Cape Breton, the high winds and uprooted trees caused significant damage to people’s homes. United Way Cape Breton partnered with the Mennonite Disaster Service to help carry out repairs for vulnerable residents, and provide immediate shelter for those who needed it.

Other agencies provided emergency kit items, replaced camping equipment for folks experiencing homelessness and even made emergency repairs to their own organization’s space.

Meaningful Connection

Many of the funded partners support in Halifax expressed appreciation for the funding, because it helped to connect them with clients or program participants they hadn’t been in contact with recently. This has led to new opportunities to re-engage with people. It’s led to opportunities to connect them to more supports and resources in the community.

One of LOVE (Leave Out Violence) Membertou’s members had just moved to Halifax for school when the hurricane hit. When they were unable to reach family during and after, local members of LOVE Nova Scotia stepped in to connect with them and provide support.

In total, $336,000 was disbursed to community agencies, which supported over 3,100 individuals and families across the province.


Phase Two

Phase two of the project will take place over this spring and summer, in anticipation the next hurricane season. $100,000 was held in the fund to be focused on future-proofing efforts. Extreme weather events are likely to continue to occur more frequently. Our local community agencies will have an opportunity to apply for funds to help them prepare. They might purchase things like a generator or battery powered lights and chargers for clients.


Thank you

We are so grateful for Emera and Nova Scotia Power for kicking off this fund.  We’re also thankful for our regular Community Fund donors who help us maintain strong connections with our community agencies. The Community Fund is the backbone of United Way funding. Emergency response would not be possible without those regular programs that help people every day.

In addition, we’d like to send our thanks to the other corporate donors who stepped up to donate to this fund, including:


OnX Canada

Cox & Palmer

Stewart McKelvey


We also gratefully acknowledge our donors who wish to remain anonymous.