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Community restores New Minas home gutted by fire

New Minas residents Derek and Rebecca Sherman are back in the home they nearly lost to a fire thanks to the generosity of the community and the New Minas Sunrise Rotary Club.
New Minas residents Derek and Rebecca Sherman are back in the home they nearly lost to a fire thanks to the generosity of the community and the New Minas Sunrise Rotary Club. - Submitted

NEW MINAS - A home ravaged by fire last summer has become a prime example of what can be achieved when a community comes together.

Derek and Rebecca Sherman’s house was rendered uninhabitable after flames tore through the interior of the bungalow on July 5, 2017.

The fire broke out at a time when the newlywed’s house insurance had recently lapsed as a result of a temporary period of unemployment caused by an unexpected workplace closure.

Neighbour Rosaire Blais witnessed the fire, and vowed to do what he could to help the homeowners recover.

“The smoke damage was very extensive throughout the house,” he said.

“The house was pretty much gutted from what it was before.”

Blais crafted a makeshift sign out of cardboard that said “after fire cleanup, come and help.” He stuck it at the end of the road, and was surprised to see roughly 20 people show up.

One woman offered to clean the clothes that could be salvaged. A little girl went around the neighbourhood and collected $200 in donations. A man offered to haul garbage to the dump with his truck.

“It felt very neighbourly. It’s not something that happens every day,” said Blais.

“People just pitched in. It was great.”

But the extensive cleanup was just the beginning. The gutted home needed a new interior, so Blais contacted Jim Winsor to see how the structure could be salvaged without insurance money to cover the costs.

Winsor, a municipal councillor for Kings County and local Rotarian, connected the Shermans with the New Minas Sunrise Rotary Club.

Caleb Howden, a Rotarian and owner of Denim Homes, agreed to take on the task of project manager for the restoration work.

Howden joined fellow Rotarians and industry professionals Paul Dixon of Safeguard Property Management Services and Gary Morse of Morse Construction in reaching out to suppliers and trades workers to gather donations of time and products.

“The drywall was gutted when we got there but there was layers of flooring that still had to be stripped,” said Howden.

Windows, insulation, electrical components, framing, plumbing, drywall and flooring had to be replaced. Howden estimates the work would have cost in the ballpark of $105,000 if a contractor was hired to do the job.

“We rebuilt a lot of things within the home.”

Mark Vardy of Gates Insurance organized fundraisers to help the Rotary Club contribute $4,400 in cash, and New Minas Sunrise Rotary president Heather Hennigar ensured the project was viewed as a priority under her leadership.

Howden stressed that the end result is a quality restoration job made possible by the generous contributions of several compassions individuals.

“It felt good to do something within the community and with the community,” he said.

“It was nice to see the whole industry rally together to put this together.”

Sherman Home Restoration Project, Summary of Donations of Materials and Services

Juanita and Mike Blenus - Apartment accommodations for three months during the early stages of the renovations

Annapolis Animal Hospital (Dr. Dana Power) - Emergency care and services for the two dogs injured in fire

Denim Homes (Caleb Howden) – project management, donation of installation work for flooring, windows, doors, and bathroom vanity. Joint donation of labour for trims and casements installation with Paul Dixon of Safeguard Property Management

Morse Construction (Gary Morse) - Donation of labour to repair rot around the front door and install siding on front of house, arranged for donation of crack filling by Greg’s Painting and crack fill from A.W. Allen and Sons Home Hardware as well as some paint from Brad’s Décor.

Safehome Electric (Wayne Isnor) - Electrical supplies and permits at reduced cost

Guy Roy Electrical Services - Donation of all electrical trades services for the removal of wires and fixtures, rewiring of the house, installation of panels and fixtures.

Safeguard Property Management & Services (Paul Dixon) - Garbage disposal services, supply and installation of ceramic tiles in the bathroom. Paint, trim and casing installation.

Evangeline Plumbing (Don Buchannan) – Donation of all plumbing services

Winsor Financial Services – kitchen faucet set

Berwick Home Hardware – Supplied interior doors, primer, drywall

Thermo Homes Inc. (Jeremy Lutes) - Supply and installation of all pink installation in the living area walls, attic, rim Joist areas and basement walls.

White Rock Mechanical  (Jamie Robbins) - Supply and installation of heat pump

EMCO/Gerber Canada - Supply toilet, plumbing fixtures

Progressive Cabinets (Halifax) - Donation of kitchen cabinets

Rafuse Home Hardware (Wolfville) - Donation of Kitchen counter tops

Al Shelton Cabinetry/Jim Winsor - Install kitchen cabinetry

Rafuse Home Hardware (Wolfville) – Donation of kitchen countertops

Neighbours and Rosaire Blais – Gutting, clean up of the burnt out house, installation of drywall, laying flooring

Gerd Burger, Heather, Hennigar and Barb Clark – painting

Pearly Coldwell – Counter=top installations, siding repairs, supply and installation of basement door

Al King Band - Live band music for a dance evening fundraiser

Gates Insurance (Mark Vardy) – Organized dance fundraiser and provided sandwiches, snacks and refreshments for the evening

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