Hurricane Fiona slams into Atlantic Canada

Mt. A. students reflect on the damage caused by the record-breaking hurricane

In the early hours of Saturday, September 24, Hurricane Fiona barreled into the coast of Atlantic Canada. Classified as a Category 4 Atlantic hurricane, Fiona wrought destruction onto portions of the Caribbean and Eastern Canada. According to The Weather Network, it was the strongest and costliest post-tropical cyclone to hit Canada on record.

In the height of the storm, there was intense rain and wind. Although Sackville was not hit as hard as other places, such as other coastal towns in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, residents were still left to deal with the destruction that occurred in its wake.

The Mt. A. campus did not lose power, however, many neighbourhoods in the town did. In addition, roofs lost shingles and trees were uprooted in every corner of Sackville. Unfortunately, in some cases, the very homes that were supposed to keep residents safe ended up compromising their safety.

Liam Grunau, a third-year student at Mt. A., is currently living in a shared house off-campus. At about two in the morning on September 24, Liam and his roommates “saw some bright green, blue, and white flashes, followed by some electrical buzzing, and assumed that these noises were due to some of the transformers exploding.” He thought nothing of it at first and went to bed soon after.

In the middle of the night, Liam was awoken by water dripping onto his bed, where he noticed that the overhead light fixture in his bedroom was filled with water. Liam said that he “heard some cracking and snapping noises in [his] ceiling, almost like branches snapping, and a large hairline crack formed all the way across my room, where water started leaking, as well.” With rainwater leaking into his room, Liam had to sleep on the couch for the rest of the night. Before going back to sleep, he put a bucket underneath his bedroom light fixture, hoping that it would minimize the amount of water he would have to clean up in the morning. Liam says that he wishes he had “put some towels across [his] bed that night as well,” because in the morning, his bed was completely soaked and the bucket he had put on his floor was overflowing with water.

Liam added that he thought “the community and the school did a great job at supporting everyone during the storm.” The afternoon after the storm, Liam was able to charge his devices and get some schoolwork done in the Student Center, which was open to accommodate students who had lost power. The power in his apartment was back on by four in the afternoon, and Liam said he “really appreciate[d] the people involved in getting everything back up and running as normal as soon as they did, and the people involved in cleaning up the aftermath of the storm.” The student’s landlord called an electrician to survey Liam’s apartment, and thankfully, nothing was permanently damaged. Liam concluded that “it was a pretty wild experience, but I’m just glad that it wasn’t any worse!”

Even now, weeks later, people are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Fiona.

A third-year psychology student, Emma-Jane Webster-Lawrence, travelled to PEI during the first weekend of October to help clean-up her mother’s property in the aftermath of the storm. When initially planning the trip, Emma-Jane’s mother did not have power, so Emma-Jane prepared to bring her supplies, including some premade meals. Fortunately, by October 1, her mother’s house regained power; meaning that the residential area had gone without power for eight full days after Hurricane Fiona hit on September 23. Emma-Jane said that “thousands upon thousands of homes were left powerless,” though as of October 7, she knows “many people who are still waiting, including her dad, sisters, and friends.” With the prolonged power outages in these residential areas, some people had to shower in local churches, including one of Emma-Jane’s sisters.

Emma-Jane described the drive from the Confederation Bridge to her mother’s house as “shocking;” she recalled that “massive trees [had] fallen everywhere, powerlines [were] completely destroyed, old barns and homes [had] significant damage to their roofs and siding.” Once arriving at her mother’s house, she noticed that they “had easily 50 trees down in our yard alone, one that had fallen and torn out the Wi-Fi line, and one that had completely crushed her brother’s truck.” Thankfully, her brother and mother are both landscapers, so they had the equipment to help with cleanup.

Having grown up on the island, Emma-Jane was especially distraught to see the damage that was done to the beaches. She said that “as a kid, it was my favourite place to be,” and that “seeing the erosion of the shoreline was absolutely heartbreaking.” Emma-Jane described that “the beautiful sand dunes that once spanned the entire park were gone. The beaches where I spent the majority of my summer breaks were replaced by ocean. Some of the smaller buildings lining the wharf were destroyed completely, others badly damaged.”

Sadly, based on the damages she observed, Emma-Jane thinks PEI will “be in recovery for quite some time.” She added that “Maritime electric and other power companies from Newfoundland and New Brunswick are working towards having power back to the majority of the island by [October 9], though that is only the beginning.”

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