It has been a while since I was in this space. A few things on the personal front became a distraction, not to mention coming down with the COVID-19 virus. Now that’s not fun as many readers well know. Anyway, I have mostly recovered so I am among the army of the affected who will find out how things go long term with this nasty bug. I think this virus is here to stay, with booster shots being the standard protection in the days ahead. I am signed on to that as it is the best I can do to protect myself and others.
Of course, I should get over myself and speak to the awful events that affected Port aux Basques and region with the arrival of hurricane Fiona. I was and am heartsick, being witness to the considerable loss of property and a life because of this event. Living away as I do, all I could do in the midst was be glued to the TV and call relatives and friends to be assured they were not directly impacted. Fortunately they were not, but the chilling descriptions of neighbourhoods destroyed and people being forced from their homes left me speechless.
God knows the Southwest coast sees some terrible weather, but this was in another category altogether. The personal impact, emotionally and physically, will take some time to heal and repair.
As many probably know my association with Port aux Basques is longstanding. My family lived in Port aux Basques for a year in 1982. I recall my earlier visits connecting with the ferry, at which time I never realized that, through marriage, I would get to know the community and region intimately.
During my first visit in 1968 and while traveling with a friend, we toured in early morning the neighbourhoods that were located uniquely along the shoreline. I was struck by the size and physical footprint of the community. In 1968 with rail, ferry and coastal boat operations, Port aux Basques was thriving and much larger in population than it is now.
One thing I learned over the years is that the resilience of people in the region is strong and the community will recover. It will be different to be sure but with the right support things will get back to some normalcy.
One other point worth discussing and, for which I have no particular expertise, is that the response to and future preparation for these weather events must change. Hurricane Fiona proves, along with other similar instances, that the climate is changing and there is a new normal. Port aux Basques will no doubt discover this in its recovery efforts.
Much thought will be placed on where people relocate and begin new lives. Proximity of houses and infrastructure to the ocean, which once was no real cause for concern, will undoubtedly change. Planning for new development will take in to account worse case scenarios and weather events that no longer are in the “once every 100 years” category.
Broadly speaking, our approach to natural disasters at all levels of government must cause thinking for the long term, while building in resilience and higher building standards than ever before contemplated.
My best wishes to a community I know well. You will get over this.