As the outer rain bands of Hurricane Igor pounded Random Island, my family gathered to watch at the dining room window - 15 feet from the ocean. We new something was not quite right as the eye of the hurricane was still some 400 kms off Cape Race. We were to find out the brutal, ferocious power of Mother Nature at her finest. The power went out in the early afternoon, followed by the phone service some ten hours later. Life was about to become much like that experienced by our ancestors. Gone were the electrical powered luxuries and distractions of modern life. Gone was the freedom of unimpeded motor travel - except of course bikes (ATV's).
We, the whole community of Hickman's Harbour, were hunkered down in our homes, isolated and vulnerable, ernestly listening to our emergency radios for any news of the events unfolding around our little Harbour. For us it was VOCM. We listened to the morning show, we listened to the afternoon show, and we listened to the evening show. All the family huddled around the table under candlelight. Like a few generations before us, the radio waves kept us enthralled and connected.
Newfoundlanders are, for certain, the great communicators of Canada, and for four uncertain days they communicated on the phone-in shows from coast to coast. At first, when events seemed centered around St John's, the shows seemed almost to downplay the events unfolding. The best, or worst example I can recall was talk show hosts and callers decrying the apparent fact that "townies" don't know how to use a four way stop. I recall this because it seemed so absolutely foolish, trivial, and out of touch with the hell unfolding around us. Yet, as the roads in town turned to raging rivers, and the fields and lawns to ponds, the tone seemed to get more grave. It was as if an understanding of something far more ominous was beginning to sink in.
Finally the news started to circulate of the massive devastation around the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas. The news broke of the first, and thank God the only, fatality of Igor - Mr Alan Duffett. Although I never met the gentleman from Britannia, friends told me he had successfully fought cancer twice and survived several heart attacks. A man of obvious strong determination. It seemed particularily tragic that Mr Duffett should have to die in such a violent and random way. Yet, true to the nature of this storm, nothing was to be untouched by it's fury. The mood seemed to darken over the province.
In our Harbour, like many around the province, people began to emerge from their homes and check on their neighbours and friends. They started to clean their yards and streets. However, their hands were tied when it came to the massive destruction of the roads and flooded areas. The power, phones, water, and fuel were all out of their hands - although some determined souls managed to take bikes to distant communities for jerry cans of gas.
What we learned was that this old land was created by sea, travelled by sea, and populated by sea. The Bights, Coves, Harbours are all used to describe the sea shore at their communities - unlike many places in the country. We were reminded that there is really only one road that runs through the province, and how the link can be shattered at whim. Yet our sea links can not. Even after ferocious Igor pounded the Island, the seas were back to their original, unaltered, state within days. No reconstruction is required there. No intervention by governments. It's as if nature is reminding us of the basic truth that Newfoundland is, and will always be, a land tied to the water.
As we move to reconstruct this land, let us move together, as we always have, and rebuild it stronger than before. In defiance of the odds, and in the knowledge that we are preserving this beautiful land for those that will follow.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)