'Everything is unusable': Fishers, farmers assess damage as Fiona wreaks havoc on industry

Fiona may be over. But for many Islanders, the work to rebuild is yet to begin.

Province says urgent financial assistance plan on the works

A smashed up wharf at Red Head Harbour
Fishers say 75 per cent of the infrastructure at Red Head Harbour has been completely destroyed. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Fiona may be over. But for many Islanders, the work to rebuild is yet to begin.

Farmers across the Island are reporting heavy damage on their properties after the post-tropical storm hit P.E.I. with hurricane-strength winds.

Beef farmer Allan Holmes said he wasn't sure he would continue farming after Fiona rendered all the buildings in his Kingston farm useless.

Winds ripped the roof off one of his barns and a hopper tank full of grain fell on another, destroying it. Most of his animals survived, though he said some calves may have not made it.

Allan Holmes looks over some of the damage caused by Fiona on his farm in Kingston. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"There's not enough money in beef to bother taking on that much debt to rebuild, so that's basically the way it goes," he said.

"[This storm] will set me back or promote my decision to do something else pretty quick. There's no thinking about it over the next coming years. This was a hit."

Potato farmers ahead of harvest

Alex Docherty of Skyview Farms said a tarp barn at his farm was completely destroyed and another was severely damaged. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Alex Docherty of Skyview Farms said potato farmers have seen nothing like this before.

At his farm, a storage building and a tarp barn were completely destroyed, while another tarp barn was severely damaged. Docherty said the damage comes just days before the farm was supposed to begin harvesting.

"We're right ready to start harvesting potatoes. We don't even have time to clean the mess up right now," he said.

"We don't know what's going to happen. We're going to have to wait for insurance adjusters. It's going to be quite a schmozzle for the whole island. Not just me. There's people worse off than I am."

Alex Docherty looking at a destroyed building at his farm. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Premier Dennis King said at news briefing Sunday afternoon the province is working on an urgent financial assistance plan to helps individuals and businesses affected by Fiona.

The premier said the federal government has also pledged to put together and finance a plan to get wharves rebuilt "as fast as possible."

Fishers affected

Officials have said areas exposed to storm surges have seen the most severe damage from the storm.  (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Officials have said areas exposed to storm surges have seen the most severe damage from the storm. 

In Morell, the Red Head Harbour wharf was almost completely totalled.

Ken Drake was one of the fishers who spent Friday night there keeping an eye on their boats. He said all the boats have at least some damage.

"I spent the night aboard the boat one time before tied to that north wharf out here. Now this storm here, there's no north wharf. It took the wharf," he said.

"The boats ended up willy-nilly out in the middle basin here with the wharf tied to them, but the wharf wasn't fastened to anything else. So everybody's boat was wandering based on the direction of the wind and nobody could get to where it was."

'Everything is unusable'

'Everything is loose and everything is unusable at this point,' said David Sansom, president of the Red Head Harbour Authority. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

David Sansom, president of the Red Head Harbour Authority, said there were about 15 boats tied to the wharf. He said there were efforts to haul them in, but haulers where too busy and couldn't make it in time.

Sansom said 75 per cent of the harbour's infrastructure has been completely destroyed, with only one section of wharf remaining that fishers can tie boats to.

"Our lower wharf, the tide bumped so high, it pulled it right out and destroyed that. And our east wharf this evening, the tide came up and lifted it right out of where it's secured," he said.

"Just everything is loose and everything is unusable at this point." 

Sansom said he hopes repairs move forward quickly and that they're in place by spring.

"Over the years there's been, I don't know if you call it shortcuts," he said.

"Our northern wharf was fixed a number of years ago and it wasn't done 100 per cent, it was only done 50 per cent. We wanted it done 100 per cent. And that's the way it turned out. And it wasn't enough." 

The province said in a release it's received reports of damage to crops, boats and other infrastructure from farmers, fishers and aquaculturists. It said assessments are ongoing.

With files from Steve Bruce and Laura Meader