Early September storm has effect on many Islanders, from homes to farms to businesses

As post-tropical storm Dorian swept across the Maritimes on September 7, many homes, businesses, farms, and fishers were affected by its path. Despite its category as a post-tropical storm, it packed winds that were in the hurricane range and came with heavy rainfall. Nearly a month later and clean up continues for many here on PEI.

The high winds and rain of the storm brought down hundreds of trees and power poles across PEI and at one point one third of the Island’s population were without power. Some areas of the Island were without power for over a week, with Maritime Electric bringing in crews from Newfoundland and Ontario to assist them.

Those power outages caused havoc for businesses who rely on having power to run their fridges and freezers. The Handpie Co in Albany was hit hard by the outage, even though their power was restored relatively quickly. “We were out for around 30 hours total,” owner Sarah Bennetto O’Brien said. “Long enough to lose everything in our fridges along with a couple of the older freezers. Once handpies thaw at all they have to go.” She estimated that between ingredient and product loss, lost revenue from the store’s closure and the lost production time, the cost to her business is around $14,000.

However, Bennetto O’Brien is thankful for the true Island spirit of neighbours helping neighbours, as Atlantic Beef Products Inc were able to get a freezer truck to her business, helping to save some of her product.
“I am always thankful for my strong network of local business leaders and comforted in knowing that help is literally just around the corner if/when we need it,” she said. “Russ Mallard, the CEO of Atlantic Beef Products was in Ireland during the storm and I was at a trade show in the States…by the power of technology we were able to gather up our crews to bring over the freezer truck and have everything from our walk-in freezer securely loaded in within the hour.”

A grain field shows the wind patterns of the storm
Photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty

Farms were affected by the storm, with corn fields flattened, apples blown off trees in orchards, and potato and wheat fields damaged. Mark Ashley, who owns Wintermoor Orchard estimated he lost about 30 percent of his crop. He deemed it as a “manageable” loss, seeing the bright side as the orchard did not lose any trees in the storm, just apples. “The Paula Reds took a hit,” he said, during a tour of his farm. He explained that they were nearly ripe, so were more easily knocked off the branches by the winds.
Other orchards like Arlington Orchards in Tyne Valley estimate that they lost 200 trees out of their 10,000, along with some of the apples. Anne Jamieson, co-owner of Riverdale Orchards was grateful they only lost seven apples trees and that they are still able to use the apples that did fall for their cider.

Just as Dorian was a storm with a wide path, its damage was wide and far. The shellfish fishery was another industry affected, with Fisheries and Oceans closing the areas around PEI, NB, and NS for harvesting on September 9. It is standard practice to do so following major weather events like Dorian, as runoff from land can occur and shellfish may become contaminated with toxins. The closed areas around PEI reopened on September 18.

The power outages that lasted for days also resulted in many Island homes losing their perishable foods from their fridges and freezers. Island food banks were expected to have more demand than usual and the PEI government pledged $50,000 in additional funding to the food bank system. As well, the provincial disaster financial assistance program can be applied for as it provides emergency, non-repayable financial assistance to PEI residents, small business, from the commercial, agriculture and aquaculture/fisheries sectors, and not for profit organizations for uninsurable loss and damage caused by the storm.

At time of printing, there have not been any firm estimates placed on the overall cost to Islanders from this late summer storm.

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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