Hands across the wa­ter


If there is any truth to the fol­low­ing line from the Peace Prayer of St. Francis — “ It is in giv­ing that we re­ceive” — the peo­ple of Old Per­li­can and area should re­ceive full credit for the way they reached out to help fel­low New­found­lan­ders in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Igor.

On Fri­day, S e p t . 2 4 t hey opened their pocket books, their cupboards, their fridges and their hearts to res­i­dents on other side of Trin­ity Bay, who found them­selves in dire straits.

While Trin­ity South and Con­cep­tion Bay did sus­tain some dam­ages from Igor, it paled in com­par­i­son to the dev­as­ta­tion the hur­ri­cane left on the other side of Trin­ity Bay and along the Bon­av­ista and Burin penin­su­las.

One of the hard­est hit com­mu­ni­ties was Catalina, which had been cut off from the rest of civ­i­liza­tion with no way to re­plen­ish sup­plies. Two days af­ter the storm the peo­ple of the area were run­ning out of food, drink­ing wa­ter and other ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties of life.

Re­al­iz­ing there was no way in or out of the com­mu­nity by land, Rev. Eric Squires was so “dis­turbed and tor­mented” by the des­per­ate plight of the peo­ple, he couldn’t sleep. Ly­ing awake around 2 a. m. Fri­day, it dawned on him, “ if we could only get a boat across the bay to Old Per­li­can, we could pick up some sup­plies from the Red Cross.

“ I was up all night think­ing about it,” Rev. Squires told The Com­pass last week.

On Fri­day morn­ing he called VOCM’s Open Line with Randy Simms and put out a pub­lic ap­peal for help.

He also con­tacted the Cana­dian Red Cross in St. John’s, “ who said they could meet us in Old Per­li­can in four hours with food and wa­ter.”

The Angli­can Church min­is­ter said Garfield Tip­pett of Catalina came to the res­cue with his 59foot long liner, Sil­ver Foam. With Rev. Squires him­self on board, they set sail for Old Per­li­can, a three and a half-hour steam across the bay.

Not far out­side Catalina they were re­minded of the dev­as­ta­tion Igor had wrought. The skip­per had to nav­i­gate through a de­bris field lit­tered with ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing large high­way signs Igor had washed out into the bay.

Amaz­ing sight

An “amaz­ing sight” greeted Rev. Squires and the crew when they ar­rived at the wharf in Old Per­li­can.

Rev. Yvonne Hopkins, the United Church min­is­ter there, de­scribes the scene in her com­mu­nity.

“ When the boat docked, pick­ups started ar­riv­ing at the wharf. They came down to the wharf in droves, pickup af­ter pickup, filled with food, wa­ter and other sup­plies for their stricken neigh­bours across the bay. There were all kinds of gro­ceries and house­hold clean­ing sup­plies; what­ever peo­ple could think of to put in a bag,” she said. Some peo­ple took up col­lec­tions and bought things like food and wa­ter.

Lo­cal busi­nesses also do­nated food and other sup­plies to the wor­thy cause, she noted.

Peo­ple dropped off food at QuinSea Fish­eries, where it was tem­po­rar­ily placed into large crab tubs be­fore be­ing pack­aged in card­board boxes pro­vided by the com­pany for ship­ment aboard the boat.

“ The water­front be­came a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity with ev­ery­one from women with ba­bies help­ing out to el­derly men di­rect­ing traf­fic. It was un­real,” Rev. Hopkins ob­served.

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