Stone Soup, Cherry Trees, and Shorelines: An Update from Prince Edward Island on Hurricane Fiona

Dear friends, I wanted to provide an update on our Hurricane Fiona experience here in Prince Edward Island. Since the storm hit on Friday night, we have been amazed at just how powerful it was. I appreciate the kind personal notes and shows of support via email, Twitter, and DMs. I hope this note will fill folks in while I catch up on correspondence.

In brief: We are safe and well, mostly dry, relatively well fed, and we have intermittent cell access that is increasingly stable.

We have been without electricity since midnight Friday or early Saturday morning. It really was a harrowing experience trying to sleep through the night of the storm, waiting for the next transformer to explode into yellow and green light, or the next tree to crack like thunder and fall into the darkness. However, our most pressing issue was a flooded basement—filling my office and family room floor with water when we no longer had power to run the sump pumps. After dawn, in the eye of the hurricane, I was able to get a generator to fire the pumps. It was a close call, but by mid-afternoon Saturday we were mostly dry. We saved the computer equipment and all the books—though Dorothy Sayers’ letters were in some danger.

Beyond the water damage, we are thankful that we don’t have any structural problems with our house and barn. We are sad that of the 6 trees on our property, the storm took out 5 of them. About 1/3 of the branches from our young (about 45-year-old) Maple came down, and its sister next door was demolished. However, the Maple tree with Nicolas’ treehouse held firm. Two 15-year-old paper birches fell—though one of them is snapped at a high enough point that it may throw up its crazy white branches and keep going. Saddest of all, is the loss of our 17-year-old Cherry tree. The Cherry provides shade and colour and pollinates with a neighbour’s tree, a place for birds and bees and cats’ fascinations. Its leaves were just turning auburn and burgundy this week. It fell and crushed the dwarf apple tree (and part of the garden) beneath it. It is a loss. Admittedly, that apple tree is the ugliest thing in nature besides mole rats, with tasty wormy apples from branches glued back together after previous storms. It may survive yet.

There are many losses that are much greater than ours in the storm—including friends’ homes and the Prince Edward Island land- and shore-scapes, which are forever changed. We did not prepare well for this storm, but we have resources that many don’t have. Though the fridge food is mostly gone, there is a generator that is cycling through the neighbourhood to keep freezer meat from spoiling. We are using it to keep our basement dry and charge laptops and devices for work, connection, and entertainment—for my work did not cease with the storm. We ran out of gas in the generator, but a neighbour came by who had gas but his basement was flooded, so that exchange worked well. If we can get the time and someone to lift the generator, we will siphon some gas to take it to Kerry’s parents’ house—both of whom are fine, but want to warm up the house and keep food from spoiling. We also have a church community that would support us if we needed help.

And, unlike so many folks, we have a wood stove to keep us warm, a BBQ to cook our food (and that of the neighbour’s as freezers thaw), a good amount of data, and a pretty strong network of support.

I really wish my chainsaw hadn’t been stolen, because there is much work to do. I wish we had prepared for a week without electricity rather than a weekend, because we are constantly improvising. I wish I hadn’t = put my back out lugging this generator around (though it’s only spasms now, very light pain, I can do stretches). However, given the damage that others have sustained, we feel fortunate, blessed, and hopeful.

And it is a beautiful blessing to rediscover and re-member neighbourliness. A neighbour had improvised a cooking bowl in his backyard and asked for wood from our winter pile. We could give his family dry wood from our basement and he taught folks in his building how to cook safely. Another neighbour spent two days cleaning up his downed trees and gave me the Maple wood he can’t mill for next year’s fire. I have had one of the local drug suppliers kindly offer me something “stronger than ibuprofen” for my back, which was kind of sweet. My counsellor was able to do a session in candlelight in his office, a real gift—though he reacted to me bringing him home-brewed coffee as if I was the one gifting him! One of our neighbours—whose house we can now see because the trees between us are gone—is going about the neighbourhood collecting items for a chicken soup. We traded some herbs, carrots, and corn for supper tonight. It is a pretty lovely Stone Soup moment.

So, best wishes to you all. We are responding to well-wishers when we get moments of electrical connection. I’m reconfiguring my local classes to alleviate student concerns, but it will be a week or so before work stuff is back to normal for us.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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13 Responses to Stone Soup, Cherry Trees, and Shorelines: An Update from Prince Edward Island on Hurricane Fiona

  1. Mark B says:

    Looks awful Brenton. I only heard about it from another site I’m on from Andrea Mckenzie who lives there too. Strange that living in England I think of PEI as some idyllic place where so many of my favourite books have been written and that nothing like this could ever happen to it. Reality bites hard sometimes. Praying and hoping that you’re all ok. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad you are safe, and sorry for the damage and losses, both yours and your neighbors. I somehow hadn’t realized you were in the path of Fiona, I am glad it was not worse. It is hard to prepare for such things, it looks as though you were better prepared than many. I have been watching the news for a couple other friends closely affected, luckily they are fine. I have 4 family members (one in a nursing home and not moveable) and several friends directly in the path of Ian, a pretty fierce looking storm. I do wish they would evacuate, but I can understand their reluctance as well. I rode out a Cat 1 hurricane on a small island and it scared the three toed Hannah out of me….but then I was not in a house, just a tent (crazy college kids!). I really wouldn’t want to go through that again. Do stay safe, and rest your back as you can. Keep us informed as you progress towards normality please.


    • I was prepared in one way, in that the property was safe. We made a couple of errors on that point, but it was okay in the end.
      We were fortunate in preparation rather than really prepared in other ways. My car was half-full of gas, but should have been full. It turned out okay. I didn’t fill my propane tanks, but it was okay–and we had a little camping stove as backup. We had the tools to deal with the water damage, and could have prevented some of it with better preparation. And I have a great support network. Thus, we are on the front end of things, just a bit weary.
      Hurricane 1 in a tent! Wow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. danaames says:

    Oh Brenton, I had no idea the storm went so far north. Like knottedthread, I am sorry for your losses and glad you are safe, and that the island as a whole did not suffer more damage. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the best in people often rises and makes a real difference when things like this happen. God bless all of you. (btw, you live in a very lovely neighborhood, even with so many trees down).


    Liked by 1 person

  4. robstroud says:

    I said a prayer for your family as the storm was approaching you. It’s rare when we hear PEI mentioned on the news! Glad you’re safe. Looks like it’s time to plant some more trees.


  5. hatrack4 says:

    I have been away from any news feeds for two weeks. I hope you are safe and back up and running soon.


  6. So glad you are doing well. And hurrah for neighbours and neighbourliness.


  7. Pingback: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day, Day 7 Without Electricity | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  8. Pingback: Back in the Light After 12 Days: Lessons from Hurricane Fiona | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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