Picking up the pieces

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Residents along Northumberland Strait cleaning up after winter storm batters region

Picking up the pieces

JACKSON'S POINT - Steve Gibson remains in a state of disbelief at the power of Mother Nature after a storm surge over the weekend flooded his Jackson's Point cottage and removed four decks.

"I lost all four decks off the cottage, they're gone and I have no idea where they went," Gibson said Monday after surveying the damage. "The cottage itself took about two to three feet of water."

The cottage, owned by Gibson and his wife Joanne, was one of several summer homes along the shoreline in Tidnish to be damaged by a massive storm surge overnight Saturday at the height of a winter storm.

"I had a deck at the front of the cottage, two on the sides and one at the back. The one at the back had the barbecue on it and they're all gone. The picnic table's gone and the wheelbarrow is gone. There was even water in the crispers of the fridge. It was quite a shock."

Gibson, who was notified of the damage by a neighbour early Sunday, estimates the water rose about 10 feet during the storm, devastating some properties while leaving others relatively unscathed.

While the cottage is several years old, Gibson and his wife have done considerable renovations over the last few years that included building the decks. To make matters worse, he doesn't believe the damage is covered by insurance.

"We'll rebuild, but we're going to wait and see if there's any assistance," Gibson said, adding that along with the deck, he'll have to replace the floors inside the cottage as well as insulation. "They won't even sell you insurance for this type of thing because it's not supposed to happen."

Further up the shore, a massive deck that was connected to Ed Tattersall's cottage was disconnected and moved about 10-15 metres before coming to rest next to his neighbour's cottage. Several other cottages were moved off their foundations.

Tom Routledge said a lot of water came ashore at the height of the storm and even he's surprised with how much damage it did.

"There were places along this strip where the water would have been neck-high," said Routledge. "I've seen water come up to the road before, but I've never seen anything like it. I don't think anyone out here has ever seen it like this. Yesterday, you could see decks and steps and other debris sitting out on the ice."

Over in Port Elgin, N.B. things were slowly returning to normal on Monday after a state of emergency was called at the height of the storm.

A wall of water and ice rolled through the seaside village overnight Saturday, damaging homes and businesses and leaving chunks of ice on the road through the community.

"I'd say we had about seven or eight more feet of water than we've ever had," said Tony Fagan, who was busy early Monday cleaning out his son's apartment at the water's edge. "I saw one flood when I was a kid that you could be on the footbridge with rubber boots and have it come to your ankles. The water this time would have been up to your neck."

Firefighters and volunteers spent part of the night Saturday evacuating people from homes near the water while a number of summer homes and cottages along the shoreline from Cape Tormentine, to Upper Cape and Indian Point were heavily damaged.

Sharon Cole, who runs Cole's Meat & Grocery on Main Street, said she went behind her property late Saturday and could not believe what she was seeing.

"I wanted to call everyone I could think of and tell them to come down and look at it because it's not something they would have seen or would ever see again," said Cole, looking at the ice left behind. "The river was up in our backyard and the ice was just sitting there."

While her store was not touched, her home had some water damage in the basement including her furnace and water heater.

"I've only lived here for 20 years, but I've talked to people who've lived here their entire life and have never seen it this bad," said Cole.

Blair Spence, who operates a woodworking business, had several metres of water in his business that's adjacent to the walking bridge. The water damaged a number of saws and left a huge mess that he was working Monday at cleaning.

"A friend of ours called about 11 Saturday night and said there was a lot of water. My brother Lipton came down and had a look but there was nothing he could do. The water was at the bottom of the windows and getting higher," said Spence, adding he's not sure how much the value of the damage was. "I have a lot of motors here that were under water as well as a number of hand tools."

Spence is hoping to reopen by the end of the week.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Meat & Grocery

Geographic location: Tidnish, Port Elgin, Cape Tormentine

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