As my faithful reader knows Atlantic Canada was hit by Hurricane Fiona, one of the worst storms in Canadian history over the weekend. The storm took an unusual turn and rather than going out to sea came inland with the eye centres over Prince Edward Island. It was one of the most frightening nights I can remember with winds up to 150 km/h (95 km/h) and our building shaking and rattling. Our damage was minimal but the landscape of much of our Island and the lives of many Islanders has been changed.
Dunes have been swept out to sea, rock cliffs have crumbled, boats and buildings have been swept away, fall crops have been destroyed and farm land eroded, a good half (if not more) of the mature trees have been felled, taking homes and utility poles with them. Fortunately and perhaps miraculously there was no loss of life.
Both social and news media have been filled with pictures of the devastation and I won’t be adding to them as the mere volume is mind-numbing and heart-breaking. However this comparison image will show you a satellite photo pre-Fiona (left August 2022) and the same view (right September 25 2022) after it has passed through.
In 1984 Leon Dubinsky wrote a number for a musical about Cape Breton Island* in Nova Scotia. He composed it as an anthem to resilience of Cape Bretoners at a time when the area was going through an economic crisis. According to Dubinsky, the song is about “the cycles of immigration, the economic insecurity of living in Cape Breton, the power of the ocean, the meaning of children, and the strength of home given to us by our families, our friends and our music.” It soon became a canticle for our Atlantic Provinces and the people who call Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and PEI home.
This version was recorded by Anne Murray when my beloved Rita MacNeil, the Rankin Family and other guests joined her for a CBC special in 1991.
In the first verse Anne Murray sings “We look to our sons and daughters” which, given what I have seen this past four days, I would change to “We look to our friends and neighbours”. It’s going to be a long, heart-breaking recovery but we will “Rise Again”.
*Cape Breton were also badly hit by the storm as were areas of Newfoundland, and though not considered Atlantic Canada Les îles de la Madeleine. No province was left unscathed though some were more fortunate than others.
The word for September 28th is:
Hurricane \ ˈhər-ə-ˌkān\: [noun]
A tropical storm or cyclone with winds of 119 km or 74 miles per hour or greater that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes. It is normally applied to storms occurring in the western Atlantic though it is used for storms in the northeastern Pacific as well.
1550s, a partially deformed adoption of Spanish huracan (Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés, “Historia General y Natural de las Indias,” 1547-9), furacan (in the works of Pedro Mártir De Anghiera, chaplain to the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and historian of Spanish explorations), from an Arawakan (West Indies) word.