Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Nature

By Tracy Pastic

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Everyone has their own opinions about social media. It is an efficient way to communicate with others far away, to find long-lost friends and to show the world what you are up to. But it is also known as an incredible time waster and one person’s idea of a fabulous post, may be drivel to someone else.  

For us, last fall, social media actually played an integral part of letting us know about the disaster that we had on the island. 

The weekend after Thanksgiving, most of us on the island had closed up our cottages, sadly leaving the beautiful fall landscape until the Family Day weekend trek across the ice. The following Tuesday, I noticed a curious post on the “I have a cottage on Paudash Lake” Facebook site.

Jim and Cathy Bowles had posted a few pictures of some fairly large fallen trees on their neighbours' property and said that a wicked storm had come through in the middle of the night. There was some discussion from others in the area that had experienced similar damage. That got me thinking, and a little worried about our island. So I added to the post asking if anyone still had a boat in the water, to go and check out the island for us. 

The Armitage’s answered my call. Their boat hadn’t been tucked away at the marina yet, so they made the trip up to the lake the next day. 

My concern was warranted. The pictures that were emailed to me later that evening were heartbreaking. What they found when they arrived was similar to a war zone but with trees. The storm (later reports from people was that it sounded like a train coming through the bush), had come from across the east shore of North Bay and had broken land on the east corner of the island. It took every large tree down in its pathway, and continued along the front shore of the island and inland as well. There were trees all over everyone’s properties, including roofs, decks, docks and the uprooted trees had even lifted some foundations in some cases. 

They took most of the pictures from the water as when they came up on the land, they couldn’t go along the regular pathways that connected the cottages because of all of the tree debris. The storm seemed to have quieted down when it got to the other corner on the west side of the island as the damage became more minimal. I am not sure how much sleep anyone from the island got that evening, after all of the pictures were shared amongst us, but we all made plans to go north as soon as possible. 

When we all managed to see the damage for ourselves, we couldn’t believe the force of the storm and the extent of the wreckage everywhere. It was so overwhelming and upsetting to see. Huge trees everywhere, completely uprooted, and others leaning precariously. We estimated well over 100 trees had been taken out. 

Where to start was the big question. We found out that the storm couldn’t have happened at a worse time as it was moose hunting season and most of the arborists were hunting. Luckily some answered our calls of help, insurance companies sent their investigators and we began the task of cleaning up.

The rain didn’t dampen our spirits and in true island fashion, we worked together to clear pathways and debris from the buildings. One thing about cutting trees is the power and the weight of each one. It is an art to know how and where to cut a tree and I am really glad that we had the professionals looking after the dangerous ones that were hanging over or on the buildings.

Six months later and we still have a lot of work ahead of us. It will take years to get rid of all of the brush and get the island even close to what we had before the storm. We certainly have enough firewood to last a lifetime, although it is mainly pine. 

Being on an island really limits the resources available to us, for example, a lot of the wood was sawmill worthy, but getting it off the island and to the mill is the tricky part. Moving root balls involves winches and block and tackles; not bull dozers. But, as we all already knew, we have a pretty cool island family. The storm only proved how resilient we are and how by working together one property at a time, we can accomplish the impossible. As a side note, we have lots of pine available for anyone who wants to take it. No, we don’t deliver. Info available on Facebook; of course.