Port aux Basques, a small town on Newfoundland’s western edge, was one of the hardest hit by post-tropical storm Fiona. As the powerful storm passed through, it brought massive waves that washed homes out to sea. Mike Drolet takes a closer look at the damage.
Jocelyn Gillam knows she’s lucky to be alive after coming face-to-face with the post-tropical storm that destroyed part of her southwestern Newfoundland town and nearly swept her away in a surge of rushing water.
Gillam was standing near her home in Port aux Basques on Saturday morning when a storm surge hit, sweeping her off her feet and dragging her underneath a Jeep as she clung to the undercarriage for dear life.
The 61-year-old said she’d been chatting with family and neighbours when she turned her head and “saw Fiona coming.”
“It was brown, it was white, it was angry,” she said in a phone interview. “You could see she was coming with a vengeance.”
Post-tropical storm Fiona carved a path of devastation across parts of Atlantic Canada, leaving behind smashed homes, roads strewn with debris and hundreds of thousands of people without power.
But few places have been hit as hard as the 4,000-person community of Port aux Basques, where dozens of homes were destroyed and a 73-year-old woman died after being swept out to sea when a storm surge flooded her home.
Gillam remembers feeling the water rising as she struggled to hold on to the Jeep and her brother-in-law fought against the current to reach her.
“He came up but he couldn’t find me because there was so much water,” she said. “I was down under the water so, so much.”
She said her brother-in-law called for help, and he and some neighbours were able to grab her when the water began to subside.
Gillam escaped with only a banged-up knee, and memories she says will live with her “forever and a day.”
“Last night I didn’t sleep a wink because every time I turn over, I could see the waves and then I could taste the water and I could smell it in my nose,” she said. However, she says she’s on the mend and feels lucky that her home wasn’t damaged.
Many in her town weren’t as lucky.
On Monday, residents escorted by provincial response crews sorted through piles of debris in the pouring rain to salvage what they could from what remained of their homes.
One house perched on the edge of the rocks was missing an entire wall, its kitchen table and cupboard fully exposed on the sagging wood floor. About 30 metres away, another house was almost flattened, its roof and side wall missing. Nearby, a stuffed animal and blanket with Pixar “Cars” characters lay under splintered wood.
Premier Andrew Furey visited Port aux Basques and nearby communities Monday and compared the devastation in southwest Newfoundland to disaster zones where he has worked as a medical doctor.
As of Monday afternoon, he said, at least 80 homes were destroyed or structurally damaged in Port aux Basques alone _ but the number could rise as officials continue to take stock of the damage.
“For every roof that’s floating in the ocean, there’s a family, there are stories and there are memories attached to that piece of infrastructure, and that’s what’s heartbreaking,” he told reporters.
He said officials were still working with the federal government about where to deploy Armed Forces members and other federal aid that has been offered.
Andrew Parsons, the provincial legislature member for Burgeo-La Poile, told the briefing that the immediate focus of relief efforts is ensuring people have shelter, food and clothes. While an emergency shelter was made available, he said all those who have been displaced are staying in hotels or with family.
The longer rebuilding effort will take more time, and will involve co-ordination and aid from the federal government. “We don’t have all the answers right now, but we’ll get there, and we’ll have everybody’s back throughout this entire ordeal,” he said.
Furey said the government would be announcing a financial support package in the coming days that will help those whose insurance won’t cover the damage.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
“His doctors have warned us that there may be the onset of dementia, but he hasn’t showed many symptoms before,” he said. “But it seems like the day he went for his walk — his routine walk — he never made it home.”
Michael said “something happened on that walk.”
“Now, ten weeks later we’re still on the search for him and we haven’t found him or any articles of clothing, or anything at all which is what is really making this extremely difficult,” he said.
Michael said his father was retired, and to fill time, would take two or three of these walks a day.
“So everyone knew him,” he explained. “And that was just basically his routine.”
Michael said if anyone sees his father, they should call 9-1-1 “right away,” and should stay with him until police arrive.
He said the family is also “always looking for volunteers.”
According to Michael, they have conducted many searches, but have looked across the whole city.
Now, Michael said it’s more about awareness.
“So keeping the posters up, keeping the social media pages up,” he said. “We need to find my father.”
“It’s been 10 weeks,” he continued. “We don’t know where he is, we don’t know his condition,” Michael continued. “So the main thing is just to keep the awareness out there.”
Hey Fresh Fam I have already been here a month! Thanks for hanging out with me! A little bit about myself…I am an absolute animal lover and I have a pet rabbit! Her name is Mochita and I treat her like my child. She is my bestfriend and most of my life revolves around her. I also love adventure whether it’s hitting up Canada’s Wonderland, going on zip lines, or jumping off a cliff into water…I love a good adrenaline rush! Here’s a little Q & A to get to know a little more about me. The holiday you enjoy most? (And why)
I honestly enjoy all the holidays. I really like to be festive about them and I always decorate my apartment for them too! I also love the holidays because it’s always nice to get together with family.
What superpower would you pick and why?
I would love to have the power to be invisible because then I could spook people whenever I wanted.
What makes you sick? As in, completely and utterly disgusted?
Mistreatment of animals.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
No and I am conflicted on whether I would want to see one or not. I think it would be cool but also a little terrifying.
What is the hardest truth you’ve ever had to tell?
Tell my cousin’s GF that he had another girl sleeping at our house….my whole family was so mad at me…but after that the relationship ended as he found out she was cheating too!
Feel free to copy and paste the questions for yourself to answer as I would like to get to know you too! You can send them to me via E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Treaty 8 medal and its leather strap were physically returned, while the other five objects remain at the museum for preservation under the approval of the First Nation.
Alberta Culture Minister Ron Orr said repatriating ownership of stolen artifacts is a crucial part of reconciliation.
“Alberta’s government and the Royal Alberta Museum are committed to working with Indigenous communities to honour the significance of Indigenous artifacts and the stories they tell,” Orr said in a statement.
The Royal Alberta Museum said it consults with Indigenous communities on a regular basis to ensure objects and stories at the museum are shared, cared for and returned to their rightful owners.
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is located in Treaty 8, about 300 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
It's been one week since a riot broke out when the headliner of a music festival at the PNE Amphitheatre canceled and as Kristen Robinson reports, Vancouver Police will be taking a page from the Stanley Cup riot as they work to identify the suspects responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
It’s been just over a week since a cancelled performance sparked a riot at the PNE Amphitheatre – and a Vancouver police probe which will be taking a page from the Stanley Cup riot playbook as investigators work to identify the suspects responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
When BREAKOUT Festival headliner Lil Baby cancelled at the last minute on Sept. 18, fans unleashed their anger on the PNE venue toppling tables and tents, overturning food kiosks and fridges, looting and fighting.
Seven people were arrested for breaching the peace and Vancouver’s top cop vows to bring all of the rioters to justice.
“The people that did that, we’re going to hold them accountable,” VPD Chief Const. Adam Palmer told the police board on Sept. 22.
“We had over a million still photos and thousands and thousands of hours of video,” Palmer told Global News on the 10-year anniversary of the downtown mayhem that caused just over $3.7 million in total damage.
Three hundred people were charged in the Stanley Cup riot. Two hundred and eighty-four pleaded guilty and nine others were convicted at trial resulting in a 98 per cent conviction rate.
Eleven years later, tech experts say video submissions will be much clearer as the camera is the smartphone feature that has improved the most.
“You’re seeing more megapixels you’re seeing a higher resolution,” said Andy Baryer of HandyAndy Media.
“When they’re looking at this image, they’re looking at cameras that even Hollywood uses to make commercials and movies so the image quality is unrefutable and the fact that they have so much of this shared on social media, it’s just a matter of time for them to collect all of it and to use it as evidence.”
“Our ability to analyze that video and bring people to justice and identify people is second to none,” added Palmer.
“It’s not good to be caught on video doing something illegal,” criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon told Global News Sunday.
Leamon said certain actions could potentially reduce an accused rioter’s sentence – if they’re convicted.
“It is possible that turning yourself in or making an expression of remorse can be taken as a mitigating factor.”
When video footage surfaced of rioters flipping over vehicles, smashing windows and looting stores in 2011, people lost jobs and scholarships while students were kicked out of university.
Palmer expects we’ll see similar outcomes when the VPD releases photos of suspects in the PNE riot.
“I’ll guarantee you that parents, relatives, friends, the person that you sit next to in your biology class, your neighbour down the street, the person that didn’t like you in high school, whatever it is, people will phone in to the number and they will tell us who you are,” Palmer warned.
“We are going to come knocking and arrest you and take you into custody.”
WATCH: Global’s chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell joins us from Sydney, Nova Scotia for an update on the aftermath of the historic weekend storm. Plus, he shares a heartwarming example of the community's resilience after a couple tied the knot during the height of the storm.
In a statement sent to Global News Monday, Jennifer Nicholson, Parks Canada spokesperson for Sable Island National Park Reserve, said the horses act instinctively and seek shelter in groups in the lee of the dunes during the storm.
Sable Island National Park Reserve is a narrow strip of dunes and grasslands that is managed by Parks Canada. About 500 Sable Island Horses roam here alongside the world’s biggest breeding colony of grey seals.
The island is located in the Atlantic Ocean near the edge of the Continental Shelf, which is 290 kilometres offshore from Halifax, according to Parks Canada.
Zoe Lucas, president of not-for-profit organization Sable Island Institute, was with three Parks Canada personnel on Sable Island over the weekend, according to a Facebook post published Sunday. Lucas said by late Saturday morning Saturday, “horses had emerged from sheltered areas and were grazing, grooming, and engaged in their usual activities.”
“The horses are pretty used to storms, they find shelter from the wind and blowing sand in the lee of dunes — there are plenty of hollows and high dune slopes in inland areas, and depending on the wind direction, the horses also huddle on the beach at the base of the dunes,” the Facebook post reads.
Nicholson said a detailed assessment of assets damaged by Fiona on the island is underway.
“While damages were incurred to the exterior of main station’s buildings (siding and sheathing), no catastrophic property damage has been detected,” she wrote.
Nicholson added that satellite phone check-ins took place throughout last Friday night and internet connection of the main station, which is a operational hub of island activities and programs, was restored in Saturday morning.
The generators were able to continue to provide power throughout the storm, while the water and electrical systems are up and running, Nicholson said.
“We do not yet know the extent of damage to dune systems,” she wrote. “Preliminary reports indicate that erosion was less than anticipated.”
The site will remain close as Parks Canada continues the detailed assessments of damage by Fiona, according to Nicholson.
Visitor flights to Sable Island are cancelled until at least Sept. 29 when their resumption will be re-assessed.