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When Alyssa Brown awoke from an afternoon nap with her infant son Elijah during a recent snowstorm, her home was in complete darkness.
It turned out the electrical service stack and meter were ripped off the side of the Hub area duplex by the high winds and snow. Firefighters had to cut the power line to the house to prevent a fire from starting and Nova Scotia Power couldn’t restore service until the repairs were made.
Without heat or lights, Brown’s father had to drive from Homeville during the height of the Jan. 21 blizzard to pick up her and Elijah, who will soon be nine months old.
The next day, Brown called an electrician to assess the damage. She was shocked when he told her it would cost $1,700, including $1,000 in advance.
“I can’t afford that — I’m a mom,” said Brown, 30, who is on income assistance. “When I first got that estimate I was like ‘I don’t know how I’m going to afford this. This is not good. I’m not going to be able to have heat in my house. I can’t cook — I can’t do anything.’ It was just awful. It was an awful feeling.”
Desperate, she reached out on social media for help. That’s where Devon Murray heard about her situation and decided to help.
The owner of Devon’s Electrical made the repairs that day. He gave Brown a huge discount — $800 for a job he’d normally charge $1,300 for — and told her she could pay him in installments.
“That’s the thing with my business, I wouldn’t leave anybody in the cold or in the dark, so I offered her a payment plan,” said the River Ryan resident, who turns 27 next week.
Then he discussed the situation with his wife Amber Murray and decided to tell Brown to consider the bill paid.
“I decided that in good faith we’d do the job and get her power back on for the $400 and no other payment was necessary,” said Murray, who has two young sons — Caleb, who is almost two, and five-month-old Jace — at home. “We have two children who are under two years old and we know the panic and the difficulty when something like that comes up unexpected, so we just decided that we’d do that for her.”
Brown said Murray’s gesture made a huge difference.
“I don’t how to explain it. It was such a relief. It was like I could breathe again.”
“That was amazing. Honestly, I was speechless. I felt so grateful. Especially right after Christmas and then the storm happened and it was just so unexpected. I couldn’t believe it.”
Murray said he was just happy to help.
“She was happy — really happy — and really appreciative. She insisted that she could pay us some more when she gets it but we weren’t interested in any more payments from her — we’re just happy to do it,” he said, adding he regularly tries to give people who need it a break.
“I do it quite a bit. We usually pick one or two customers every six months that we’ll give them a break or do it for less than cost.”