Early this morning, March 15, wind speed in the area was recorded at 153 km/h, the strength of a Category 2 hurricane.
On one side of the road two crushed vehicles and what’s left of the small house are visible from under a wrecked roof.
On the other side of the road, large tufts of pink insulation, splintered wood, strips of drywall and scattered debris litter a sloping field almost all the way down to the water. Even a mattress got blown out to sea, barely missing yet another house as the winds carried it along.
Somehow Mary Loder escaped unharmed.
The Cape Anguille resident, who moved to the area this past winter, first noticed the high winds at 4 a.m., when she awoke to let her dog out.
She went back to bed, but got up two hours later.
She told TC Media she had just stepped into the hallway from the bathroom when her house came apart, buckling under the weight of the debris that had flown across the lawn from another house, crashing into her home.
“I didn’t know what was happening,” said Mary, at times wiping her eyes as she recounted her confused panic.
She watched in disbelief as the bathroom window blew inwards and tore the medicine cabinet off the wall. Believing that her roof had blown off, she tried to reach her front door but found herself temporarily trapped.
“Everything was coming in through.”
Gripped by shock, it took her a few moments to remember she had a back door too.
At first she didn’t realize that it wasn’t her house flying in large pieces past the windows, but an unoccupied house next door, belonging to Garland Hilliard.
Once she got outside she found her brand new car and her boyfriend’s truck had been demolished as well; the two vehicles buried under the neighbor’s roof.
The house where Mary had been staying, rented from son-in-law Ivan Hilliard, was ruined, her possessions either destroyed or lost to the winds.
One side of the building, which had been under renovation, was gone. Also lost was the relatively new roof. The front deck he had built had been moved away from the house itself.
“It all landed on top of my house and her two vehicles,” said Ivan, who had been en route to work when he learned what happened and quickly turned back.
Compounding their worries is lack of insurance.
Without a concrete foundation Ivan was unable to secure homeowner’s insurance; Mary was denied renter’s insurance for the same reason.
The owner of the house that blew apart, Garland Hilliard, is Ivan’s uncle.
He was also upset to learn of the extent of the damage. The house originally belonged to his mother but had been vacant.
He says he had planned to demolish the house this Spring.
“It was the last thing in the world I expected to wake up to,” said Garland, who has yet to see the damage firsthand. He also heard about the mattress turned kite. “That was a screecher (of a wind);120 km/h is a normal storm for us.”
Codroy Valley fire chief Brian Osmond says the department didn’t get an emergency call, though he was aware of the condition of Garland Hilliard’s house.
He denied rumors that the fire department had considered performing a controlled burn on the house last year, though he did admit that someone had inquired as to the possibility.
“We’re a volunteer fire department,” said Osmond, stating that although they could perform a controlled burn it depletes resources on a department that has no real funding. He says he has also denied similar requests in the past and advised the petitioners they were responsible for any demolition or clearing of their properties.
Both Ivan and Garland plan on pitching in to clean up the mess soon. For Mary, coming to grips with the disaster, may take a bit longer to clear away.
“I waited so long for this,” said Mary, her voice trembling. “Trying to do everything, trying to get everything done and you know, be comfortable.”
Still, she is grateful to have escaped injury.
“I thank God every second,” she said, from the perspective of having survived a hurricane force wind.