Original Published on Oct 01, 2022 at 09:00
By Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — One of the most recognizable photos capturing the impact Fiona had in the region has been shared all over the world. The blue house shown perched precariously on a rock after a storm surge is owned by Lloyd and Peggy Savery. Their son, Josh, said the photo really summed up the whole experience.
“You have the ocean behind it, you have the destruction through someone’s home right there. It just completely sums up everything that happened during the storm.”
Savery’s family was able to get out of their house in plenty of time, something they attribute in large part to what Mayor Brian Button shared online.
“The night before, my parents saw the mayor speak and he suggested that, if you’re going to stay home, get up early in the morning, check the water levels, and then make your decision then. I think that was a giant contribution to what got us out of the house that early,” said Savery. “ It was 6:00 in the morning. Wind and stuff was blowing on the doors, hitting the windows. We all woke up and my dad took a peek outside, saw the water levels were a metre to metre and a half higher than what they should be. It wasn’t even high tide. It was still six or seven hours to high tide, and we knew it was going to get worse and we had to go.”
Savery said the family left their home with only the clothes on their backs and their pets.
“We got out of the house and went to (his uncle) Ben’s, which is just down the road a bit. We stayed there for an hour or so and then we had the fire department and police show up suggesting we leave because there was a chance that the water was going to come over, and if it came over it could cut off more roads, and then we would be stuck there because they wouldn’t be able to get supports down there as easily.”
The Saverys are currently staying in the Grand Bay area with relatives.
“Every once in a while you see on the newsfeeds and stuff another photo of our house, another video clip of our house, and incrementally during the day we would just see bits and bits of it get torn apart. It was unreal.”
Savery said his father actually witnessed the house collapsing.
“My father and Ben went over to Scott’s, who lives right next to us. Ben and Scott went in to check on Scott’s basement and a wave came in, crashed, and pushed them into the garage. My dad looked over at our house and saw the wave come up and crash into the corner of our house and shake it off it’s foundation and saw it collapse. I didn’t see that myself, but he saw it and I can’t imagine it. That image is going to be burned into his head for the rest of his life. You can’t get that out of your head.”
Even after watching the videos and seeing what happened to their home, Savery said they still can’t fully grasp what has happened.
“We can’t comprehend it ourselves. There’s not really a way to put it into words, what you see, because it’s not something you ever really experience or prepare yourself for, so when it happens, you’re in shock, in a blank state. You think, ‘I know that’s my house, but is it my house? That’s not how I remember it,’ and it’s just gone like that.”
Savery’s parents came back to Port Aux Basques to retire and have only been in that home for the past three years. During that time they have been consistently working on renovations, but then it was gone in an instant.
“We thought maybe we might lose the roof, maybe a few windows, but we will be going back the next day. It sort of sunk in throughout the day that no, we wouldn’t be going back. There isn’t going to be a house left to go back to. It’s hard.”
Savery said there are sentimental keepsakes the family owned that they will probably never see again.
“A lot of the stuff that was really important, really sentimental, it likely didn’t survive. I know my mom has a bunch of journals from her parents and they were being stored in the area that got completely washed out. I had a bunch of artwork and stuff stored up in the shed, but it completely washed out and I’ll likely never see that again.”
Savery said the family is receiving a lot of support.
“People have been reaching out to us from back in Ontario. All our family here is offering us places to stay. I don’t think we’re going to be short on a place to stay or anything. It’s just sorting out what we are going to do after. Is insurance going to claim it? Are we going to get aid from the government? Where are we going to rebuild? Are we going to be able to rebuild? All these questions are up in the air and there’s no real answer to them.”
As hard as it has been to experience first hand, and then to see the photos and videos shared time and again, Savery believes it’s important for people to see the devastation to help them truly understand.
“It traumatized my parents because it’s our home and they’re devastated, but I see it like it’s important to show these things. It’s someone’s home. People need to see that. If they don’t see these things, they can’t empathize with what has happened here.”