Financial assistance coming for Magdalen Islands residents hard hit by Fiona

Financial compensation is being offered to those whose homes or businesses were damaged on the Magdalen Islands when post-tropical storm Fiona battered the area Saturday.

Quebec minister travels to inlands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to review the damage

A Magdalen Islands chalet destroyed in the weekend storm. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Quebec is offering financial compensation to people whose homes or businesses were damaged on the Magdalen Islands when post-tropical storm Fiona battered the area Saturday.

Incumbent Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault made the announcement while in Cap-aux-Meules on Sunday, saying those who live on the islands and some businesses will be eligible. Those with vacation homes may not be.

It's too early right now to say how many homes on the islands were damaged by the strong winds and flooding, she said. The cost of the damage is also still being determined. 

"We will cover anything that wasn't insured that was damaged by the flooding in the storm," she said, adding public security officials will set up an office on the islands to make assessments. 

Speaking at a news conference Sunday, acting mayor of the islands Richard Leblanc had no major damage to note.

The storm ended around 10 p.m. Saturday on the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with winds surpassing 150 km/h times. About 40 people were relocated as a preventive measure. 

"There were no fatalities, no injuries. That's the most important thing," Guilbault said earlier that morning. "We are going into recovery mode for the Magdalen Islands."

The islands have been under a state of emergency since Friday, which is expected to be lifted by 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

All weather warnings have been lifted in the Magdalen Islands and the Gaspé region since the storm as well, though the region around Blanc-Sablon is still under a tropical cyclone warning as Fiona heads north.

Photos taken roughly 24 hours apart show a man up to his waist in brown water, to the right, another with a man standing on damp ground.
Before and after: flooding at Havre-aux-Maisons, left, receded by Sunday and the sun returned to the Magdalen Islands. (Radio-Canada)

Roads on the islands, including Route 199, have since reopened. Residents are also no longer being asked to limit their use of drinking water and municipal building are reopening. 

By Sunday afternoon, about 20 customers in the Gaspé region and Magdalen Islands were still without electricity. At the peak of the storm, nearly 7,000 clients were without power. 

Seaside shops cleaning up 

Anabelle Chevrier's parents own a seaside jewlery store in La Grave. Damage from high waves during the storm could cost tens of thousands of dollars, she said.

A mother and daughter standing outside a seaside shop.
Anabelle Chevrier and her mother Solange Leblanc. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

The shop's walls and floor will have to be replaced, and it also needs to be rewired. They'll have to close their doors earlier than they were hoping this season to take care of the damage, she said.

"The ocean came and just threw everything on the floor," she said, adding about 30 centimetres of water flooded the store.

Wind knocked over some structures on the shores of La Grave, in the Magdalen Islands. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

No major damages in Percé

Bruno Gamache, director of public works of Percé, said the city was spared from flooding and major damage. 

One person lost their roof due to strong winds, he said. Workers will be clearing roads blocked by felled trees in the coming days.

Grant Radley-Walters spent much of Saturday evening picking up the trees that had fallen onto his property. 

A man stands beside a large tree trunk snapped in half.
Grant Radley-Walters used to spend his holidays in Percé, Que., as a kid. He remembers one serious storm on Christmas in 1962, but nothing as destructive as Fiona. (Franca Mignacca/CBC )

"It was fierce and unrelenting," he said. "The fence is blown over, the lilac trees you can see here are just flattened." 

His vacation home in Percé has been in the family for more than a century, but he says he's never seen a storm quite like this one in all his summers here. 

"You could not go out, not until it had calmed somewhat," Radley-Walters said, at around 4 p.m. Saturday.

Radley-Walters was without power for 24 hours, only regaining electricity Sunday morning. 

With files from Kate McKenna, Franca Mignacca and Radio-Canada's Louis Pelchat-Labelle


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