PETIT-DE-GRAT, NS –
In the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, fishermen were busy mooring their dry boats or trying to pummel them tightly into the pier as Hurricane Fiona approached Friday.
At the Samsons Enterprises boat dock, Jordan David has been helping his friend Kyle Boudreau strap the Boudreau Lobster “Bad Influence” boat in the hopes that it won’t be hoisted and broken by winds that are expected to reach speeds of up to 145 km/h.
“We try to make the boats as safe as possible. We try to help each other,” David said as the rain was pouring down and they strapped the boat to the iron cranes supporting it.
“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. Something is coming, and the extent of the damage is yet to be determined,” added David, 29, dressed in his waterproof outdoor gear.
Cape Breton in northeastern Nova Scotia is expected to be at or near the center of the storm when it makes landfall Saturday morning.
Boudreaux said it’s hard for the coastal community to absorb the significant damage from storms, because wind-damaged boats are key to their way of life.
“This is our livelihood,” said Boudreau, 33. “Our boats have been wrecked, our traps have been wrecked. They are things you don’t need to start your season next year.”
Aidan Sampson, 25, said he’s been working 11 hours a day at his father-in-law’s boat dock for the past week, lifting fishing vessels out of the water.
“If they stay in the water and face the quayside, they can be swept away by the waves for hours and potentially drowned,” Sampson said.
About 500 meters away, Rodney Fouger and his son Roger Fouger were tying up their family’s cruise boat in the Petite de Grat harbor with all the ropes they could locate, using thick plastic buoys to help slow the craft when the waves came.
Rodney Fougere, 63, a resident of Arichat, said he remembers a storm in 1974 that destroyed mobile homes.
“I’m tying up my ship as best I can, so it’s still here after the storm…They say this boat is right there in terms of wind,” he said.
“I hope everyone stays safe,” Fougere, who has been fishing for most of his life, said. “Things and things can be exchanged, but my biggest concern is people.”
“It can be very dangerous. I hope if you come back tomorrow you will see the same thing as today – boats above the water line.”
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 23, 2022.