Amid the pounding rain and driving winds of hurricane Dorian, firefighters and RCMP officers worked to rescue more than 20 people who were trapped by a storm surge in a Malpeque Bay campground early Sunday morning.
The rescue happened between 12:30 and 1 a.m. at Crystal Beach Campground in Lower New Annan. People were pulled from their trailers as the water rose. Most were housed in Summerside overnight. There were no injuries, but more than a dozen camper-trailers were severely damaged or destroyed.
Clark Waite has been a firefighter with the Kensington Fire Department for about seven years and he said he’s never had to deal with anything like this before.
When firefighters arrived they couldn’t get their station vehicles into the campground, so a few used their own trucks to ferry people out.
“The water was coming out through the engine bonnet of my truck going into the campground,” said Clark.
“It was a mess.”
Firefighters used their trucks to get as far into the park as they could, then got out and walked to as many campers as they could reach. They banged on doors and got out anyone they found.
The water was up to their chests at some points, recalled Waite, and eventually, they had to pull back as it was too dangerous to keep searching trailers.
Barb Wedge was one of the people who had to be evacuated from the park. Her son Matthew and his wife April are owners of the facility.
Wedge said they took the usual precautions with a severe storm, such as moving campers closer inland and securing what they could. But this storm surge was the worst she’s ever seen.
“It’s never ever, ever come up that far before,” said Wedge.
“It’s pretty sad.”
The destruction is unprecedented, she said, but she’s just thankful nobody was hurt.
“Thank the Lord for that, that’s for sure.”
April Wedge added that the cleanup was already starting to get underway.
“We have a lot of foot traffic coming through the campground trying to get their essentials that include clothing, medications, and anything they need longstanding but Matthew, my husband, has been overseeing everything. He’s a rockstar,” said April.
Troy Thibideau, of Miscouche, is a long-time seasonal resident of the campground. He was there Sunday surveying the damage and found his camper toppled over and cracked by a large tree.
“My wife left the Crystal Beach Campground around supper time on Saturday, and so did a lot of campers because they knew what was coming with hurricane Dorian – and this is what we returned to this morning,” said Thibideau.
“When I was here earlier this morning, everyone was hugging. It’s a devastating scene,” he said.
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