Suburban Reporter Coping with Double Duty

By Nicole Lascelle

John Austen knows firsthand how cold it's getting in the Montreal
region. The Dorval, Quebec resident has been without power since the
storm began nine days ago. But unlike many others who have been able to
put work on hold, John is one island resident who has had to persevere.
As a reporter for one of the island's weekly newspapers, Austen has been
working diligently to get the news of the devestation caused by the
storm, into print. And despite a lack of power at The Suburban's Cote
St. Luc offices, the paper was able to publish earlier today.

"It was stressful but an adventure," he says. "The paper's offices were
without power, but we managed to get a generator that allowed us to run
two of our computers at a time. With a little space heater and lots of
take-out coffee and pizza, we accomplished our goal of publication.
There were a few frayed nerves, but for the most part everyone was in
remarkably good spirits. It is important that news media continue to
tell the story."

As part of his ongoing reports, Austen visited two shelters, one at
Fairview Shopping Centre in Pointe Claire the other at the YMCA Family
Centre located in the immediate area. He says that people forced out of
their homes and into a shelter really appreciate the opportunity to
share their experiences with the press.

"At first people are just glad to have a warm place to stay. But
depression is quick to set in. Sleeping is difficult, and everyone is
anxious about the safety and security of the homes they have been forced
to leave," he says. "They need to talk about it. Our job is to listen
and report on their situations."

Austen has had to contend with his own personal plight throughout
the week. Although he returns home everynight, his Dorval residence
remains without power.

"We are fortunate to have an airtight fireplace," he says. "We're
sleeping in shifts to keep the fire burning overnight and the
temperature is remaining at the 16 or 17 degree (celsius) mark. But like
many others we are feeling luckier than residents on the south shore who
are expecting to be without power for up to several more weeks. I can't
say enough good things about the police, they knocked on our door to
check on us and asked if we knew any elderly people in the area they may
be able to help, their visit was definitely appreciated."

"For the most part, this disaster has served to bring out the good in
people and pull them together," he continues. "We plan on running a
column next week in the paper on the "Givers" and "Gougers", and list
those whose kindness made a difference and others who took advantage of
the situation. It should be interesting to see."