Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall on Port aux Basque one year ago. It is considered the most devastating storm in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
‘You can’t really fathom what went on a year ago,’ said resident Shawna Baker
Alex Kennedy · CBC News
As residents of Port aux Basques, N.L., gathered Sunday to reflect on the past year, it was hard not to notice the bright sun and warm September day.
It was a stark contrast from the weather the town experienced exactly one year earlier.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” Shawna Baker told CBC News. “You can’t really fathom what went on a year ago, and today it’s so calm.”
Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall on Port aux Basques on Sept. 24, 2022 and is considered the most devastating storm in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
Fiona destroyed dozens of homes, caused more than $7 million of damage, and claimed the life of 73-year-old Thelma Leamon when parts of her home were dragged out to sea.
“It’s been a rough year, definitely,” Port aux Basques resident Danielle Walters said while standing near a patch of gravel and grass where an apartment building stood prior to Fiona.
“It’s been pretty much a roller coaster. A lot of triggers, a lot of reminders. And, you know … just the practical questions on top of the reminders and nightmares.”
A large crowd of residents gathered for an event called Stronger than the Storm, which took place on Water Street East, where at least 10 homes were destroyed by Fiona’s force.
Kathleen Baker lost her home to Fiona, and said many of the emotions she felt in the moment have returned over the past week. She said she joined the event to lend support to others going through tough times.
“As this day approached, it started to get very emotional,” Baker said. “We didn’t expect that kind of damage.”
Many people who spoke to CBC News said the wounds caused by the storm still feel fresh, but they also painted a picture of a community coming together to push forward.
WATCH | Residents of Channel-Port aux Basques gather to mark the one-year anniversary of post-tropical storm Fiona:
Port aux Basques, N.L., gathers to heal one year after Fiona’s devastation
One year after the most devastating storm in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history, residents of Port aux Basques consoled each other and reflected on what’s been a challenging year for many.
“I think the majority of people just can’t believe that it’s been a year already,” Haley Osmond, a member of the organizing committee, said. “It’s really great that people wanted to come together and kind of talk about their experiences. There’s strength in numbers.
“It’s an anniversary that I wish we never had to have. But we do, and we’re dealing with it as best we can. And I think we’ve come a long way,” Port aux Basques Town Councillor Gwen Davis added.
It took many residents months to be able to talk about the storm and their experiences, according to Rosalyn Roy, a reporter for Wreckhouse Weekly, a community newspaper that has followed the story for the past year.
Roy’s book, Hurricane Fiona: After the Storm, was printed at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday to make sure it was ready for the anniversary. It features photos, interviews and other material that was left out of Roy’s original reporting.
Roy said putting the book together was cathartic, serving as a way to help her and others reflect on the past year. However, she knows that many people’s wounds will take more time to heal.
“Just speaking to people about what they went through. They would come into my office, and you know as Newfoundlanders we say, ‘How are you doing?’ So I used to do that all the time, and they would actually fall apart because that wasn’t just a casual question to them anymore,” she said.
“That was a big moment for me to realize that I couldn’t just do the same old thing I used to do when talking to people, because they’ve been traumatized.”
With files from Malone Mullin