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Hurricane Fiona makes landfall on Southwest Coast

Hurricane Fiona wreaks havoc on the Southwest Coast. Photo by Samantha Osmond

by: Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As Hurricane Fiona wreaks havoc on the Southwest Coast, the Town of Port Aux Basques is in a state of emergency.

With countless families displaced and an immeasurable amount of damage to homes and businesses, the Town and other organizations are doing everything they can to help.

Val Clarke with the Port Aux Basques Lions Club is currently in St. John’s; however, she is doing what she can from there.

“Lions International, I am trying to reach out to them because they have the Lions Club International for disasters – I’m reaching out to them – I’m trying to see if there is anything I can do from where I am, I’d like to be there on the spot helping, but unfortunately I am out here.”

The Lions Club is currently serving as a shelter for those having to be evacuated from their homes and Val said she was informed about 70 people are currently there.

“There are no beds, I was hoping the Red Cross or somebody would have some cots or something brought in by now because, where are they going to stay tonight? The hotels are full, there are no rooms there, so they are going to need cots or something like that,” said Clarke. “It’s something that is needed, there is nothing there at the Lions Club.”

Along with a lack of sleeping arrangements in the building, the food is also limited at the Lions Club.

“They’re cooking up meals to give out to people – eggs and that – but again, the stores aren’t open, and the Lions Club doesn’t have food either. We’ve got big kitchens and stuff like that there, and as food is brought in, they can cook it up and serve it to the public. Really, it would be nice if cots could be set up for a disaster area for people to be able to put their heads down.”

Clarke said her husband has been up and moving since this morning when the wind first struck, and he –along with everyone else – are exhausted.

Clarke added that if anybody has cots, food, blankets, anything that could be used by the individuals currently at the Lions Club, to please drop them off so people will have somewhere to rest their heads.

“This has been going on for since 4:00 this morning, this is over 14 hours later, you know people are starting to get exhausted,” said Clarke. “At least the Lions Club is a heated building, that’s what it’s there for, for our residents.”

Town Manager Leon MacIsaac said the conditions in Port Aux Basques are still unsafe.

“The winds have dropped a little bit – not a huge amount – but they have slacked off a small amount. As well, the tide levels have dropped but high tide is expected to come in again at 9:00. The seas are still quite dangerous out there, so we are waiting to see what happens with those as well.”

MacIsaac said a number of measures have been taken to curb some of the impacts this storm could have.

“We evacuated a number of areas – it’s just not safe for them to be there – we’ve got the water shut off to a number of areas as well because, with the storm damage, we didn’t want to have any adverse effects to our water supply, so we shut off water supply to those affected areas where we knew the system had been affected. We isolated those points, and the rest of the town is still fine for water supply, but those areas have had the water shut off and the power as well.”

MacIsaac said crews have been out all day making repairs and barriers are going to be placed to keep people out of certain areas as some haven’t been observing the barricades properly.

“It’s placing them and our staff in danger should they get stuck in there and not be able to get back out. We are just going to limit access to the area entirely.”

Currently the Town is working on getting an assessment of all the damages.

“Hopefully the pounding surf will slow down. We know there are a high volume of homes that have been affected by storm surge damage that are either severely damage or are destroyed. We’re still trying to get a full assessment – it may not be done this evening – but we’re getting new calls on a regular basis and are trying to keep control of that as well.”

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