Displaced residents of Port aux Basques face an uncertain future after Fiona


Denise Anderson shouted a list of items into her phone over the sound of the pouring rain, along with instructions on how to find them: clean socks, a new pack of underwear, prized pieces of jewelry and important documents.

Her husband was inside their home overlooking the waterfront in Port aux Basques, NL, days after Post-Tropical Storm Fiona brought destruction to their small southwestern Newfoundland community of about 4,000 people, demolishing homes and claiming the lives of a 73-year-old man. woman.

“I don’t want to go in,” Anderson said Monday from the driveway that fronts his property. It was covered in debris: broken pieces of wood, tires, plastic refrigerators, an overturned ATV and other vehicles pushed against the side of the house.

Anderson was concerned about the safety of the stairs inside the home, but the couple needed clean clothing and other essentials to survive as they settle into what could be a long wait for their home to be deemed structurally sound.

It was the second time they had returned home since the storm hit, overseen by emergency response workers rushing for essentials.

“As you can see, it’s going to be quite a while before I’m allowed back in,” Anderson said, her voice cracking with emotion as she surveyed the scene.

Anderson had just returned to the city she grew up in after more than a decade living in Ontario, but now she and her husband are among the dozens of residents who have been displaced after the storm. Walls and roofs were ripped off some houses, others were washed into the ocean.

Across the street from Anderson’s house, closer to the raging waves, a neighbor’s red house sits collapsed in on itself, a furnace spilling from its walls. Similar scenes of destruction were seen across the city as emergency services escorted people home to retrieve items.

Andrew Parsons, who represents the area in the provincial legislature, told a news conference Monday that finding accommodation for displaced residents will be a major problem.

Shelters and hotels have been made available for those in immediate need. Many, like Anderson and her husband, stay with close relatives, but Parsons said finding long-term housing for people may require tapping into resources like cabins and homes owned by seasonal residents.

“Fortunately, we don’t have a situation where people have nowhere to go. Being a small community, people have friends and family,” he said. “That only lasts for a while. We need to find those solutions for the next few months.”

The province is also assessing exactly how many houses were damaged by the storm as it works on a relief fund to help residents rebuild or relocate, Prime Minister Andrew Furey said on Monday.

Channel-Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said people have been taking care of their neighbors and loved ones who have been displaced. But the scale of the damage has been difficult to deal with, he said, likening the situation to a disaster movie in some areas.

“It’s been a difficult time for a lot of people,” he said from the city hall office building, between meetings and trips in the rain, where recovery efforts were taking place. “Seeing all this devastation in the city I grew up in is very hard.”

Standing in front of her home, Anderson said she feels like “one of the lucky ones” to have her home mostly standing and the support of her “small but mighty” community. But she said she’s not sure she’ll ever feel safe coming back.

“I can’t sleep now, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep when they let me settle back into my beautiful home,” she said, recalling the day she saw a neighbor being nearly swept away and watching “everything come crashing down like a bomb went off.” .

“The ocean is very scary,” he said, pointing toward the waves. “I love it. I wanted to be by the ocean. Not so much anymore.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 27, 2022

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