Nfld. & Labrador

Mood lifting in Port aux Basques, say residents, as Fiona relief announced

When the premier called a meeting with those affected by Fiona to outline some of the financial relief that will be made available, residents started looking to the future

Details of last week's financial aid bringing hope to those affected

Patty Munden, pictured here with her son Cory, says it's sometimes difficult being in the old family home but she's getting excited about the future and making new memories in a home she's hoping to build in Port aux Basques. (Troy Turner/CBC)

Dirt clumps under her feet. 

Shattered glass crunches on the floor of what was a well-used living room.

Personal belongings are scattered around the home.

All were upheaved by the ocean two months ago.

It's hard for the Munden family to go back to where they laid their heads for 48 years. 

"There's days right now that I would love to just come back to my house and open my door, crawl into bed, but I know that can't happen," said Patty Munden.

Here's a look at the patio and view of the Munden house before post-tropical storm Fiona hit. (Submitted by Cory Munden)

A lifelong resident of Port aux Basques, she was forced out of her family home when post-tropical storm Fiona ripped through the community in September. 

The weeks following the storm were hard, she said, and put her head in a spin, but things are looking up now.

"I'm more settled now. I mean, there's two months in almost, so I'm getting a new pattern and I'm adjusting to that. But yeah, it was hard at first. It's getting easier." 

A patio that wrapped around the Mundens' home in Port aux Basques was swept out to sea by Fiona. (Troy Turner/CBC)

The new pattern began to form last week, when the premier called a meeting with those affected by Fiona to outline some of the financial relief that will be made available. 

This includes:

  • A minimum of $200 per square foot replacement value for homes, based on an assessment.
  • Money for contents of the home as determined by the disaster financial assistance arrangements program's schedule of loss. 
  • Money for land, or provision of a "suitable land option."

The news was welcomed in the community.

"I was ecstatic. I was over the moon. I was so relieved," she said. "I mean, my future was in the hands of the government. And until they made that announcement, I didn't know what my next move was."

A look at the Munden living room before Fiona destroyed much of their home. (Submitted by Cory Munden)

Now the moves are clear, and the direction succinct. Munden has purchased a piece of land and is planning to build a home. She said it won't be the large five-bedroom house where they raised a family, but it will be theirs, and, most importantly, it will still be in Port aux Basques.

"You know, this home has tons and tons of memories, but I'll carry my memories wherever I go," she said. "We've had christenings and weddings and my father's funeral here, and family reunions and everything. I will miss that. But I'm ready to move on. I'll make new memories wherever I go now. Yeah, it's like a new adventure for me now."

Despite having a home that's condemned and not being permitted to rebuild in the same area of town, Munden says she feels lucky. Since the storm, she's made a lot of new friends who are also out of their homes, and many of them escaped with just the clothes they were wearing. 

Debris and dirt were heaved into the Mundens' home during the storm. (Troy Turner/CBC)

Her son, Cory, was also pleased with last week's announcement. He says there's a change in the atmosphere of the community.

"It feels like a weight has been lifted off a lot of people's shoulders in town. You can see it in the mood and conversations and people can plan for a future," he said. "The community has got an injection of hope. I think that's the right word: hope."

It's hard walking through the old homestead, he said, and especially difficult to realize there's a new reality of living on waterfront property.

"You got to grow up when your backyard was the ocean — it's quite an experience," he said. "And it's unfortunate that we're moving into this era where those opportunities won't exist anymore. So the community is going to change, no question."

Austin Taylor is pleased to hear of the financial relief being offered for those displaced by Fiona. He's now hoping to have a ramp installed at his temporary residence to aid his daughter, who has mobility issues. (Troy Turner/CBC)

'It's still been draining, waiting for answers'

For Austin Taylor, there's also a sense of relief following last week's meeting with the premier. But he's taking things day by day.

"It's still been draining, waiting for answers," he said. "We got a few answers, but you know, I'll just wait and see what happens next."

Taylor and his family were also put out of their home by Fiona but were lucky to find temporary housing on the other side of town. They're staying in a spacious bungalow, which has been a blessing, he said, but the stairs to the front door are proving difficult for his daughter, who is disabled.

"We're scared she's going to fall," he said. "She's got bad ankles and mobility and walking and she finds it hard to take down the steps."

On the bright side, Taylor says the town is expected to build a wheelchair ramp in the coming days.

His family is also planning to stay in Port aux Basques. He said he'll be looking to buy once the relief package is available but is hoping to stay where he is for the winter.

Taylor admits, though, that it's hard not being able to go back to his old home. 

"I'm going to miss it," he said. "Here, I've had [only] one person who spoke to us so far. They don't know who you are, basically. Down there we all knew who one another was, 'hello,' or 'good day,' or 'what you doing?' you know."

Inquiries related to Fiona should be directed to Fiona response co-ordinator Joanne Clarke at 709-695-9871 or email at FionaResponse@gov.nl.ca.

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