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Burgeo recovering from Hurricane Fiona

Steven Hiscock is a resident of Burgeo, NL. – File photo

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

BURGEO — In the aftermath of Fiona’s fury, smaller Newfoundland communities are proving they are stronger than even a hurricane. Burgeo was among those the communities impacted. Steven Hiscock pinpointed Smalls Island as the spot that got hit the hardest.

“It’s a small island, which had houses before there were roads in Burgeo. When roads started coming within that area, instead of people moving their homes, they built a cement bridge – the island is not that far from the community of Burgeo anyway – and joined to it by a bridge. The people on this island pretty well grew up with each other through the decades, so these guys are close,” said Hiscock. “This last couple of days, the people from Smalls Island have been working really hard to get the clean-up done, and this morning the Burgeo Town Council came by with the local construction company, and they are removing the debris from the island.”

Some homes were hit extra hard, making them unsafe.

“Dan Simms, the man who lost the bottom half of his house, the house is just standing by one cement shore. That’s it. That’s all she’s standing on. He will be able to go upstairs soon. There was an engineer here yesterday (Tuesday, Sept, 27) who assessed his house and said they will be able to shore his house up in a safe manner and, once the house is secure enough to walk in, they will be able to go into the home and salvage whatever he can.”

Homes and storage sheds with significant damage were a devastating loss for the coastal community, and something Hiscock definitely didn’t anticipate.

“I usually hear a lot of wind, but when I woke up, I thought, ‘Is that all Fiona’s giving us?’ Because usually when there is a lot of wind, I normally feel my bed shaking, the windows will buckle in my living room, because I am very high up and get a lot of high winds. I got up, got my coffee, and all of a sudden, I got a notification, went out, and then they started pouring in. By quarter after 10 I knew I was in for a busy day.”

Even though the damage in Burgeo may not be as widespread as in other areas, the shockwave was definitely felt.

“It doesn’t seem that bad here, but there was enough to significantly stun the community,” said Hiscock. “I think the feeling was that everyone expected a random basement flood or wharf to wash away or a shed to go, because that seems to be the trend here. That’s it, but I don’t think anybody expected this would happen.”

Hiscock choked back tears before he could continue.

“I feel that Burgeo needs more help, but people are doing their best to help each other,” said Hiscock. “Everybody knows everybody, and this whole thing felt personal. It’s such an emotional thing.”

Dana Strickland, whose parents, Dan and Judy Simms, suffered significant damage to their home during Fiona, received wonderful community support from the most generous of places. Students arrived at the home where they are staying with beautiful handmade cards.

“It was the classroom where Jennifer Thatcher is a teacher. She took her class and they made homemade cards. Every child got off that bus and brought them to my mother and, I tell you, that’s what kindness is,” shared Strickland. “That’s what your heart needs at times like this. Those little children came up and made my Mom’s world that day.”

Strickland said this storm has taken away everyone’s sense of comfort and safety. It has shaken the community, but the love within it still remains strong.

“We’ve had a lot of support from our family friends and our family, people taking clothes out of their closets and bringing here to Mom and Dad for them to wear. It’s support and it’s great. It’s welcomed, and we need it. Everybody needs support at times like this.”

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