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Ailing Truro woman living in house with no power or heat

TRURO – Loretta Arndt has to stop talking to wipe away tears as she explains ending up with no heat or power in her home.

Loretta Arndt has several health issues that prevent her from working. She has not been able to muster enough to cover her living expenses and consequently, had her power shut off.

"My power was cut off this morning around 9:30," she said Wednesday, sitting at her kitchen table in semi-darkness and wrapped in a thick bathrobe. "I just don't know what to do now. I don't know where to go."

Arndt moved to Nova Scotia, from Toronto, in 2003. She and her family rented at first but eight years ago purchased a house in town. Because they only qualified for a high-risk mortgage, a friend in Toronto signed with them so they could obtain a conventional mortgage. Two years after moving into the house, Arndt and her husband separated. She was left with the mortgage and bills to handle on her own.

Arndt earned money working at Sobeys, on Prince Street, until May 2014 when her health deteriorated. She had to go on EI and when that ran out she was not well enough to return to work so she applied for social assistance.

"Because there are three names on the house, social services wouldn't give me enough to pay all of my bills. I had to pay the mortgage so that I wouldn't end up on the streets and I needed my medication. I take one that isn't covered and it costs me $122 for three weeks."

Nova Scotia Power threatened to cut off her power and Arndt said she explained her situation. It's her impression that they contacted social services but no one got back to them and now Arndt says they want a little over $1,400 to reconnect.

Bev Ware, spokesperson for NSP, said that although they cannot comment on specific cases, there are generally at least eight contact attempts before power is disconnected.

"We do work cooperatively with community services to arrange payments for clients," she said. "We also have a low income advocate who can provide advice."

Arndt had surgery in July and relied on the VON for help at home. With no power, they were unable to come in Wednesday.

Arndt has a wide array of health issues, among them irritable bowel syndrome, nerve issues, degenerative discs, herniated discs, fibromyalgia, allergies to certain medication, deteriorating muscles and overall body pain. She's scheduled to see a specialist in internal medicine next week.

She's lost considerable weight and, though wrapped in a dressing gown, her hands were icy cold. Her doctor told her that her body mass index was very low and she should be taking Ensure, but can't afford it.

Arndt needs a wheelchair if she is going any distance and because she lives on a street with a steep incline, is unable to get out on her own.

"I really miss work. It was my therapy. I would go there and put on a smile and talk to people."

Her children are on their own but aren't earning enough to help her.

"I raised three children and never asked for assistance before," she added. "I always tried to be a good person and help others; now I need help and I feel there is no way to get it."

A representative of the Department of Community Services could not be reached.




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