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Fiona left this Newfoundland town in ruins. A year later, it’s still battling fear, dread and unease

fiona left this newfoundland town in ruins a year later its still battling fear dread and unease

“Every day. Every day I check the weather,” she says. “How many hurricanes is in the Gulf, and how many’s coming up through, and where’s this one going to land.”

That constant vigilance has imbued those who remain in Port aux Basques with a sense of profound distress. Any severe weather forecast now sends even the most stoic residents into a tailspin of worry, says Rene Roy, editor-in-chief of the Wreckhouse Weekly, a local newspaper that’s covered the aftermath of Fiona for the last 12 months.

“There’s definitely a perspective shift,” Roy said, leaning back in his office chair. He’s not far from where he took a photo that circulated in news outlets worldwide as Fiona bore down on his hometown: a blue house in shambles, clinging to a cliffside.

“I think people are a lot more aware of the weather now. They’re a lot more nervous.”

Roy launches into a story. He’d had a bonfire in the yard last night. Perfect weather. Normally, half the town would stop by to say hello, he said, rolling down their car windows for a chat. But this year, nobody dropped in. At the grocery store, too, locals are quiet, lost in their own worlds. Conversation that once flowed freely is now forced and stilted. Grief and fear hangs over the town, palpable and suffocating.

“This town has shifted so much,” he says. “It has died since Fiona, because that sense of community got demolished.”

Roy speaks gravely, surrounded by papers in his office. He’s working on a book about the disaster, interviewing people as they recount the worst day of their lives. He’s weighed down by it all, he says, even though his house wasn’t touched.

“Everything around here is different. Water Street, now — I used to be able to walk down there and say hi to all the neighbors, and now you walk down there and it’s a beach. There’s nothing,” he says, raising his eyebrows.

“It’s been completely scoured.”

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