Peter Clements and Helen Brightman made it through Hurricane Dorian with only minor damage resulting from the storm that slammed into Nova Scotia on Sept. 7. But without power or cell service, it was four long days before they could let friends and family know they were okay.
The former Virdenites moved to Chester, NS seven years ago and have weathered powerful storms before, but Dorian was the strongest they’ve ever seen.
They live about a three-minute walk from the Atlantic coast where the Category 1 hurricane came ashore. They decided to stay in their home and wait it out, a nerve-racking experience that went on most of Saturday and overnight.
Just before losing electricity and cell service, Brightman messaged, “I can’t make up my mind if it’s worse seeing the wind gusting through the trees or not! The full impact is due at 6-ish pm.”
That was on Saturday as the storm moved north.
It was our last message from the couple until four days later when power and cell service were restored to their area.
That’s when Clements was finally able to finish his email, begun Saturday morning, and click Send to share his observations:
“The face of Mother Nature can be pretty ugly at times. After seeing the devastation in the Bahamas, the thought that this particular storm was heading directly for us was a scary one. Of course it lost some of its intensity being only a Category 1 storm, but that is bad enough!”
“It starts off fairly mild (wind and rain) and you start thinking, well this isn't so bad. Then it hits!
“Sitting in the house, surrounded by trees and looking out of the windows at the lashing rain and trees bending every which way.
“To me, there is nothing more scary. You just don't know what could happen. We've had a few trees down. The power of the thing is unbelievable and every time the wind gusts, your heart stops for a second.
“Of course, the power could go out at any time and in my experience does so every time. It just did, so I can't send you this.”
Luckily they had prepared a 72-hour emergency kit, laying in water (“including a few buckets for flushing the loo”), batteries, groceries and other provisions.
Saturday evening, the brunt of Dorian pummeled their community west of Halifax with full force. Clements recalls, “High winds and lashing rain. Five inches of rain! At one point you couldn't see rain drops... it was one solid lump! I could literally watch the marker in the rain gauge go up... fast!”
When it was finally over Sunday morning and they could check for damage, the house was okay but two 50-year-old pine trees in back were blown down.
The couple’s three stray cats, who caused Clements a fair bit of worry, somehow made it through the storm without a scratch.
In fact, when asked if the couple is contemplating a move back to the hurricane-free prairies, Clements said, “Lol. I don’t think so. We can’t leave our little feral (cat) population. You can see where our priorities lie!”