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A decade later, Hurricane Igor’s devastation is still felt in Newfoundland and Labrador

In this file photo from September of 2010, the road to Lower Lance Cove is cratered and torn apart as family and police search for 80-year-old Allan Duffett, who died when he was swept away by floodwaters at the height of the rainfall from Hurricane Igor. — Keith Gosse/The Telegram/File
In this file photo from September of 2010, the road to Lower Lance Cove is cratered and torn apart as family and police search for 80-year-old Allan Duffett, who died when he was swept away by floodwaters at the height of the rainfall from Hurricane Igor. — Keith Gosse/Telegram file photo

A man died, roads and bridges were washed out, power was lost and properties were destroyed during the September 2010 storm

Not a day goes by that Mary Duffett doesn’t think about the day her husband died.

On Monday, her thoughts ran a little deeper.

Ten years to the day, on Sept. 21, 2010, hurricane Igor — the most powerful and destructive storm in the province’s recent history — tore through cities and towns, leaving a trail of devastation.

No one felt the impact more than Duffett and her family.


“Oh, (Allan Duffett) was a beautiful man. When it happened, it was devastating for everybody here. Ever since then, every time I hear about a hurricane coming our way, I’m always afraid. I just pray to God it’s not as bad as Igor.” — Shirley Verge


“I’ll never forget it. The last 10 years have been hard,” the Lower Lance Cove woman told The Telegram Monday. “It goes through my mind all the time, but today has been really hard.”

At 10 a.m. that day, as 80-year-old Allan Duffett and his daughter, Linda, battled horrific winds — which reached gusts of up to 140 km/h — torrential rain and heavy storm surges to check on his boat. As he walked along the section of road between Britannia and Lance Cove, near his driveway, the ground gave way beneath him and he was swept out to sea, carried away into a torrent of water and large debris.

“Linda held on to him as long as she could,” said Mary Duffett, who was married to Allan for 22 years. “But she was getting swept in, too. She couldn’t hold on no more. He was gone.”


An aerial view of damage from Hurricane Igor in Lady Cove, Random Island in September 2010. — SaltWire Network File photo
An aerial view of damage from Hurricane Igor in Lady Cove, Random Island in September 2010. — SaltWire Network File photo

 


News spread fast around Random Island and a frantic search began for the amicable resident who was loved by many in the community.

His body was found three days later underneath debris on a nearby beach.

“Oh, he was a beautiful man,” neighbor Shirley Verge said. “When it happened, it was devastating for everybody here.

“Ever since then, every time I hear about a hurricane coming our way, I’m always afraid. I just pray to God it’s not as bad as Igor.”


Random Island after the rain from hurricane Igor stopped, September 2010. — SaltWire Network File photo
Random Island after the rain from hurricane Igor stopped, September 2010. — SaltWire Network File photo

Storm surges that day measured up to three feet in some spots around eastern Newfoundland, with a maximum surge of 3 ½ feet observed in St. John’s harbour.

About $110 million is estimated to have been spent on infrastructure repairs alone, with more than $200 million in total in damages.

Close to two dozen communities called a state of emergency, and the Canadian Armed Forces was called in to help.


“In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a storm like this. The rain was almost ominous, it was violent. We had high tides, heavy winds and rain. Those are three great characteristics of a perfect storm.” — Sam Synard


Igor stranded 90 communities as roads and bridges crumbled, creating transportation nightmares for many people. With no power in parts of the province, many residents were evacuated from their homes, and many ran out of gas and perishables such as milk, bread and baby formula. Igor prompted in its wake about 2,000 disaster-assistance claims from homeowners, small businesses and non-profit organizations. 

Then-premier Danny Williams and prime minister Stephen Harper took a helicopter tour of the devastation, touching down in Igor-pummelled communities.

In an interview at the time, Marystown Mayor Sam Synard said the town received more than 200 millimetres of rain.

“In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a storm like this,” said Synard, a lifetime resident of the town of 6,500. “The rain was almost ominous, it was violent. We had high tides, heavy winds and rain. Those are three great characteristics of a perfect storm.”


Damage from hurricane Igor in Trouty, September 2010. — SaltWire Network file photo
Damage from hurricane Igor in Trouty, September 2010. — SaltWire Network file photo

Some dilemmas were less serious, but required innovation and many people coming together to help.

Maxine King and her husband, Gord King, of St. Jones Within, a small community near Clarenville, had to get creative in finding ways to get out of their community.

The day after Igor hit, the couple was scheduled to fly from St. John’s to Alberta to visit their daughter, Trudy. However, with the main road washed out and no direct way to the Trans-Canada Highway, that proved to be a difficult task.


"It was quite the ordeal for us, trying to get to Alberta. IIt was trains, planes and automobiles, but instead of trains, it was a boat. But we managed to get there." — Maxine King


With luggage in hand, the couple walked across rocks on a small section of washed-out road, and got a friend to pick them up on the other side in a vehicle and take them to another part of town. There, they boarded a boat to get across a river to Hillview, where King’s brother was waiting to take them to the highway and town.

“It was quite the ordeal for us, trying to get to Alberta,” she said. “It was trains, planes and automobiles, but instead of trains, it was a boat. But we managed to get there (to the airport and to Alberta).

“It was a trip to remember.”

She was relieved things weren’t more serious for them, noting some other residents saw property and water damage.

“It was quite the storm. It was so windy and the rain was coming down hard,” she said. “Everybody was just holding breath that their roof didn’t blow off.

“It was definitely one to remember.”

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