Hurricane Fiona has come and gone for some of us in Atlantic Canada, but for others the devastation Fiona wreaked and the power she wielded will never be gone, not completely gone. Too much was lost.
We had days of warning to be prepared for this massive storm and I would imagine most heeded the advice and prepared as best they could. I put away everything I could and tied down what was left. I had gas for the generator, my car was fuelled, I had food that didn’t require cooking. I avoided the Storm Chips everyone is keen to stock up on. Instead, I made a pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin, which I should probably confess was dug into shortly after the first puff of wind. Nothing says survival like pumpkin pie.
I am not a fan of wind, it makes me uneasy in most storms, but this wind was something else. The wind that came with Fiona’s might was terrifying. It growled and tore at trees and roofing and whipped away my sense of safety. I had flashlights at the ready and before very much time had passed the power went out. I was left in the dark feeling very uncertain as to how the storm would play out. The language used in the weather alerts was strong and I suppose wanted Nova Scotians to take this storm seriously, but it also created a huge knot in my stomach. I imagine it created panic for those only able to respond to the warnings in limited ways. The elderly, the handicapped, the ill had little choice as to how to prepare. Hoping for the best may have been their only option in many cases. I wore my clothes all night, my rain gear at the ready, my flashlight in my hand should I need to react quickly. I didn’t sleep until almost morning and by the time I fell into a deep sleep at 4:30 a.m. I’m not sure I could have responded if my house fell in.
I was up at 7:00 and pulling on my rain gear but decided to crawl back into bed and wait until the wind lessened before I fired up the generator. Debris was flying by the window, trees were bent. I looked out every window and couldn’t see trees down but across the road a neighbour’s gazebo had been flattened by a large maple and a substantial pine tree hung on the hydro lines. I eventually ventured out to my generator, surprised by how warm the temperature was. By 9:30 a.m. I had a cup of coffee in my hand, hoping that would solve just about everything. According to the Nova Scotia power outage map, my power would not be restored for another five days. It would be inconvenient for me, not life threatening, not life altering, not devastating, merely inconvenient. I was grateful and thanked the many trees that surround my house for staying upright.
What I learned about a community, what we all learn about our community when it has been threatened, is how we come together, how when faced with disaster and damage we check on one another, we help where we can. I applaud the men and women who work long difficult hours to restore power, to move debris so that emergency vehicles can get through, who knock on doors and ask if everyone is okay. I received texts and emails from friends near and far, sharing kind words of comfort. We are never alone, not really, and our humanity stands at its best.
Hurricane Fiona has departed. She took her toys and went home to wherever it is hurricanes go. Tropical Storm Ian is waiting in the wings as I write this, flexing his muscles and threatening to become a hurricane as he heads for Florida. I hope he reconsiders. For now, I’m grateful for lights that appear when I hit the switch. I’m grateful for heat and water and my chain saw. I’m so very grateful for the kindness of others. We carry on.