Monday, September 29, 2003

Hurricane Juan - A City Blown Apart

Hurricane Juan made landfall just after midnight on September 29, 2003. I lived on Windmill Road in Dartmouth with my husband Simon at the time, in Harbourshore Acres Apartments which was right on Halifax Harbour.  Our apartment's balcony faced the harbour looking towards Bedford Basin.  This is the view from our balcony on a calm evening:

I was in bed when I was awakened by a phone call from my mother about 1am. She couldn't believe I was sleeping through a hurricane. We went out on the balcony to see the storm. Our balcony was on the lee side of the building but we could see the rain basically going horizontal over the top of the building. The harbour was in major turmoil. We could see power transformers blowing all over the city. Soon the city was dark.  The wind made the most incredible roar I've ever heard.  

About an hour into the storm I was talking to my mother on the phone again when there was a huge crash out in the hallway. The fire alarms started going off as well, and we could hear panicked voices out in the hallway. I opened the door and discovered the roof had caved in at the end of the hallway.

Our neighbour told us to get out quickly. Water pipes had broken and water was flowing down the hall into our apartment. I couldn't find the cat carrier so I put the cats in a clothes basket.  Tico, our Alexandrine Parakeet, had to stay behind as her cage was too big to take with us.  We made sure she had plenty of food and water, and then we headed for the garage where our car was. 

Out in the hallway, our neighbour Marg was standing there holding her cat saying she didn't know what to do as she had no car and nowhere to go.  I told her to come with us, and she could come to my mother's with us until she could get in contact with her daughter and figure out where she was going to stay.

We were on the third floor, so we all went down to the second floor to get to the garage since our hallway was blocked. As I was nearing the garage, water was pouring on top of my head and I was in water up to my ankles. We made it to the garage and discovered that the door would not open because the power was out. A couple of guys broke the chain on the garage door and forced it open. We left, heading for my mother's which was on the other side of Bedford Basin, about a 15-minute drive away. The drive to her house was scary to say the least. We had to dodge fallen down trees and broken power lines. Debris was flying through the air and landing in front of our car. A full-sized tree blew in front our our path as well. The city was in complete darkness. We finally reached my mother's and were safe.

The following day I ventured out and explored the city to see the damage. It was unbelieveable. Trains were tossed off their tracks. Roofs were blown off of houses. Trees were blown down, some on top of houses and cars. Boats were tossed from the harbour up onto people's lawns and some were sunk.

We returned to our building to see if we could get in and to check out the damage in daylight.  This is the front lawn of our apartment building.  All of the trees were blown forward.

Here is where the major damage occurred.

This is our apartment.  We could hear Tico in there screeching away from inside.  However we were not allowed to enter the building yet as they had to make sure it was safe.

The following group of pics were all taken on or nearby Windmill Road.

This was flooding on the Bedford Highway.

This is the Halifax Ferry Terminal.  The windows were blown out.

South Street clean up.

A lot of trees fell in the Old Burying Ground at the corner of Spring Garden Rd. and Barrington St.  The Old Burying Ground is the oldest cemetery in Halifax.  It became a cemetery in 1749, the same year that Halifax was founded.  Many of Halifax's earliest settlers are buried here, and it was used for about 100 years.

The Public Gardens didn't escape the storm's wrath either.  The Gardens remained closed to the public until July 1, 2004.

The image below is the Army doing clean-up in Camp Hill Cemetery.  Some Wikipedia info about Camp Hill Cemetery:

"As a cemetery in the provincial capital, Camp Hill became the final resting place for many of Nova Scotia's elite. Officials did allow for the burial of black Canadians, albeit in a segregated section of the cemetery. In the 1990s it was pointed out that the graves of African-Canadian veterans of World War I, unlike other white Canadian veterans, were marked by nothing more than flat white stones. This situation has since been rectified by the federal department of Veterans Affairs.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains the war graves of 10 service personnel of World War I and over 80 of World War II.

There are also 17 graves of Norwegian sailors, soldiers and merchant seamen in Camp Hill Cemetery who died in Nova Scotia during World War II. These men were at sea when Germany invaded Norway in 1940. The King and government of Norway ordered the more than 1,000 ships at sea to go to allied ports."

The next image is also in front of Camp Hill Cemetery.  It is actually directly across the street from Camp Hill Hospital.  A paramedic lost his life here when a tree fell on his ambulance.

The next couple of images are from South End Halifax.

The following images are taken in North End Halifax, and shows the backyard of my grandmother's house on Merson Avenue.  For the first image I was standing in her neighbour's backyard.

For this image I am standing in my grandmother's backyard, shooting towards her other neighbour's house on the opposite side.

What do people do after a big weather event?  Go to Tim Horton's of course!  I think this was the only Tim Hortons for miles that had power.  The line up went all the way down Lady Hammond Road.

After visiting my grandmother we decided to drive back to our apartment building and see if we could get in. Security guards were there preventing anyone from going in, mainly to prevent people from looting.  There is also significant structural damage to the building and for safety reasons that part of the building was off-limits to everyone.  Once we showed ID to prove our address, a security guard escorted us to our apartment so we could collect some things and our bird, Tico.

Below is a view of the collapsed part of the building.  Our apartment only sustained water damage, but the whole wing was condemned because of the damage and had to be rebuilt. Unfortunately we had to find a new place to live because it was going to take many months to rebuild that wing of the building.

Below are some images around our neighbourhood:

This is Kelly's Deli on Wyse Road, which used to be a Harvey's.

This is the parking attendant booth behind the building where I worked (Portland St.).

Note to Self:  Don't park under huge trees during a hurricane!

We found a new flat to rent in North End Halifax.  We received insurance funds for our water-damaged goods.  This is one hurricane I will NEVER forget.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Keji Backcountry Canoe Trip - Big Dam, Frozen Ocean & Channel Lake

Saturday, August 30, 2003

My boss (but also good friend) Krista, her husband Rick, Simon and I embarked on a backcountry canoe camping trip at Kejimkujik National Park, on one of my favourite routes.  There are two long stillwaters on this route, as you can see in the map below.  I just love paddling stillwaters - I much prefer them over the bigger lakes as there is so much more to see, like turtles, frogs, and pitcher plants on the shores.  The red dotted route is the actual route we followed, and x2 and x3 are our two campsites, Site 6 and Site 9.  The car is parked at x1, and then it's a very short portage to Big Dam Lake.

We got on the water at 9:48 a.m.  The first day of the trip we had crappy weather, but there was no wind and it was warm, so we didn't mind a bit.  There's nothing like paddling on a lake when it's like glass.

The second portage is 800m but a nice trail with easy walking.  For portages we always make two trip with the canoe, paddles, life jackets, camera, etc., then we walk back and get our packs.  It is impossible to carry the canoe (it's a Cumberland Canoe and weighs about 80lbs) and a pack at the same time - it's just too much weight.  We would take turns on the portages, switching carrying the canoe and the packs to give each other's shoulders a break.  On the long portages Keji has put canoe rests which are big help.

This is me paddling down Still Brook, with Rick and Krista following close behind.

Rick and Krista took a break on one of the portages, and now they're getting ready to hoist the canoe over their heads to carry on to Frozen Ocean Lake.

Just after putting in at Frozen Ocean.  Now we're ready to paddle directly to our first campsite, Site 9 (x3 on the map), on Channel Lake.

We reached Site 9 at 4:39 p.m. 

We got our tents set up and then had some Kraft Dinner for supper.  We were pretty hungry after all day of paddling and portaging.

Once we had supper I went for a wander around with my camera.  One thing that I love about Keji is that there is an abundance of flora and fauna, and everything to do with nature is beautiful to me.  Fungi, bugs, frogs and toads, cool-looking trees, all become captivating subjects that I love to photograph.

This white birch tree is actually four trees in one.  At the base it is one tree which split into four separate trees as it grew.

There are a ton of toads at Keji.  You have to be careful that you don't step on them on portages.

It was a beautiful evening on Channel Lake. The sky started to clear, and there was a beautiful sunset. "Red sky at night, sailor's delight"...tomorrow's weather was looking very promising!

After supper we relaxed around the campfire for a bit, but we all retired early as we were exhausted.  Isn't it cool how this wood is burning...the fire is coming out of the centers of the logs.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

All packed up and back in the canoes by 10:13 a.m.  We are paddling back the way we came yesterday, but this time we are stopping at Site 6 for the night (one of my favourite sites).  It's a beautiful day, and no wind makes padding easy and very enjoyable.

All of a sudden panic in the Attwood canoe!!!  Krista is freaking out, and I knew there must have been a spider or something in her canoe as she got her feet up on the gunwales.  We got up close to them to see what it was.....

Just a cute little shrew. lol

In this photo we are back at Portage T, which is a short one, only 130m.

This little Pickerel Frog was on the shore where we landed.

 Some cool fungi along this portage:

We arrived at Site 6 around noon, got set up and then I went exploring around again.

This tree was giant, and it was really cool.  It looked like a giant hand with fingers.

I came back to the campsite and caught Krista being naughty...she was washing her bowl in the lake.  See her trying to hide it from me? lol

Our friends Greg and Nancy were staying on the other side of Frozen Ocean, and they paddled over to join us at the campfire.

Below is them padding off into the sunset, heading back across the lake to their campsite.

 It was a beautiful evening so we decided to go for a paddle.

Krista in the warm glow of the evening sun.

Beautiful sunset on Frozen Ocean Lake.  What a perfect evening!

Back at our camp site, and the sun has just disappeared behind the trees.

Monday, September 1, 2003

The next morning the water was like glass and had a fine mist over it.  I took the canoe and went for a paddle by myself. 

It's easy to paddle solo when the water is like this.

Shortly after my little paddle we packed up and headed for home.

Despite a rainy start to our trip, the rest of the weekend was incredible weather.  The best thing about camping in late August/early September is there are very few bugs.  Spring in Keji can be brutal - ideal blackfly and mosquito breeding grounds here with all this water.