Storm damage stuns Islanders on P.E.I.'s shoreline

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 23, 2010

To see photographs of the storm damage click on the slideshow section of our website.

Tyler Larter says he was almost physically sick to his stomach when he saw the water rushing towards his home in Brackley Beach on Tuesday.

"I'm still sick to my stomach now actually, just thinking about it, " Larter said in an interview Wednesday.

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDE SHOW

Rain and gale force winds approaching 120 km/h pounded the north shore of Prince Edward Island over the past few days. On Wednesday, people were reacting with stunned silence as they surveyed the damage.

Even Premier Robert Ghiz ventured out to take a look.

"I've never seen anything like it, " said Larter, whose home is behind the Dunes Studio Gallery.

"We've had this home for 20 years . . . the water was up at least 10 feet. Three days ago I was telling people at work how beautiful the water was, flat and smooth. When I got home (Tuesday) I was in total shock as I was driving down to my house. (The water) was coming straight at us. "

Joey Gauthier, who operates a deep-sea fishing business in Rusticoville, said it's the worst storm he's witnessed in 25 years.

"That was one of those storms you get every 25 to 30 years, " Gauthier said. "(The damage) is quite substantial. There was no insurance. I hate to even add it up. My wharf is pretty well wrecked and a bunch of the land is washed away. "

Gauthier said the only thing that would have helped would have been ice in the water to prevent the pounding from the waves but he is glad all the fishing boats were already out of the water.

"If they had of been in you wouldn't have slept at all last night. "

As it is, fishermen and firefighters spent much of the night making sure none of the boats that currently sit on cradles tipped over.

Gauthier said the breakwater in Rustico sustained heavy damage and he lost all his trap material. More than 1,000 mussel buoys also washed away.

"I heard someone say (Wednesday) that they haven't seen a tide like that in 50 years but it's just material, no one was killed. "

Chris Misener, a fisherman in Covehead, said the force of the wind and waves picked up huge concrete pillars at the Covehead wharf and moved them 15 feet.

"The shoreline is gone, " Misener said.

"I couldn't believe it when I went down this morning. "

He said, in places, at least 30 feet of shore simply vanished.

"The last 10 years worth of storms (combined) didn't do what yesterday did. "

 

 

GRAHAMS POND PULVERIZED 

By Steve Sharratt

The Guardian

MONTAGUE — One of eastern P.E.I.’s largest harbours, Grahams Pond, was pulverized during the lunar eclipse storm that crushed fishing shanties, ripped up wharf decking and spewed five-metre waves into the bullpen.

“It was outrageous,’’ said wharfinger and fisherman Barry Creed. “We’ve got a lot of destruction.”

The frenzy of the storm was viewed Tuesday night in the flood of headlights as vehicles lined the shore and harbour and fishermen and onlookers watched helplessly while waves and surf pounded the fishing port.

The harbour run, used by boats to enter and leave the bullpen, turned into a natural funnel as the fury of the waves topped five metres and slammed and destroyed anything in the way. Even rocks from the seawall — designed to protect the run — were hurled ashore.

“The waves just kept coming up over the slip and there were washouts everywhere,’’ said Creed. “I’m sure we have some real structural damage here.”

Fishing shanties closest to the shore were crushed into toothpicks and those that remained standing were covered in debris and battered by waves and rocks. The water was almost three feet up the fuel tanks in the harbour and went well past the Kitchen at the Crick restaurant.

“Grahams definitely took the worse hit,’’ said fisherman and local MLA Charlie McGeoghegan who surveyed damages throughout his riding. “Beach Point and Sturgeon also had some damage, but not quite like the Creek.”

The relentless waves continued throughout the night and by morning fishermen and spectators were back to see the aftermath.

In Beach Point the range light was swept almost 200 feet inland from the point where it guides boats into the harbour and the causeway at Panmure Island was completely submerged in water overnight. So much sand and water poured across the roadway it took a plow to clear the road Wednesday morning and in some areas the waves were only a few metres from the actual paved highway.

The sand dunes were severely eroded and the only thing left at the island end of the causeway is heavy granite rock used a few years ago as a method to try and prevent storm surge washouts.