In the wake of Fiona, these people in N.L. are stepping up to help

The Canadian Red Cross, Lions Clubs and other groups are helping the people in southwestern Newfoundland displaced by post-tropical storm Fiona.

Nearly 100 homes were destroyed by the storm

The Canadian Red Cross has set up a shelter for displaced people in the Port aux Basques area. (Yan Theoret/CBC)

Two days after post-tropical storm Fiona decimated parts of southwestern Newfoundland, people and organizations across the province are stepping up to help.

Nearly 100 homes — and counting — have been destroyed in communities like Port aux Basques, Burgeo and Burnt Islands, and hundreds of people have been displaced.

The Lions Club in Stephenville, about a two-hour drive from Port aux Basques, is collecting money, food, bottled water, personal hygiene products, diapers, baby food, clothing and other basic supplies for people who have been displaced.

"We had a request actually come in this morning saying that the children who were displaced were asking for stuffed toys that they could hug," said Sandra Williston, a volunteer with the club.

Williston said the response to the call for donations, issued Sunday morning, has been unbelievable, and the club sent multiple loads of supplies on Sunday and Monday morning and was preparing to send more Monday afternoon. 

Erle Barrett, Lions Clubs International Foundation district co-ordinator, said in addition to donations from the community, the Stephenville Lions Club is getting an emergency funding grant to assist with relief efforts in the places impacted by the storm

'The needs are great'

Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers are operating an emergency shelter in Port aux Basques for displaced residents.

"The needs are great and the needs are significant," said Rhonda Kenney, Atlantic director of emergency management.

A person with long hair and glasses wearing a black fleece stands next to a table carrying emergency supplies like a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
Rhonda Kenney of the Canadian Red Cross says 600 people impacted by the storm in Atlantic Canada have registered with the organization for help. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

She said the primary role of the organization is to work with municipalities, including the Town of Channel-Port aux Basques, and the provincial government to help people who have been displaced, impacted or evacuated.

"Basic needs such as food, shelter, personal services, those are the areas that we also support," she said.

Kenney said since launching a national appeal on Sunday for donations to help with relief efforts, the organization has received $1.8 million. The federal government said it will match donations for at least 30 days.

She said anyone in Atlantic Canada who has been impacted by the storm can register with the organization by calling 1-800-863-6582. She said about 600 people across Atlantic Canada have registered so far, and that number will likely grow.

Helping from afar

Ingridsierra Quilty and Susan Anthony, friends and neighbours in the St. John's area, both volunteered to collect emergency supplies after seeing images of the devastation in southwestern Newfoundland over the weekend.

"When we saw the pictures on Saturday to Sunday night, like, we had to do something," Quilty said.

Anthony said they spread the word through social media.

"Really quickly a lot of people came together and really wanted to help," she said.

Four people stand in a parking lot. Pallets of supplies, including water and potato chips, can be seen behind them.
From left, David Andrews, Susan Anthony, Ingridsierra Quilty and Joel Hickey are part of a team of volunteers in St. John's helping collect, co-ordinate and transport emergency supplies for communities in southwestern Newfoundland impacted by Fiona. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Anthony said she's been in contact with Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons and the Port aux Basques Lions Club about distributing the supplies to the communities hit hardest by post-tropical storm Fiona.

Anthony said the group is collecting supplies to meet the most pressing needs of people impacted by the storm. The group is collecting clothing for all ages and genders, including warm clothes for the upcoming winter.

"You kind of have to look forward to the immediate future and then the next week or two as it comes," she said.

Anthony said the effort has grown exponentially as more volunteers and companies offered help.

Joel Hickey, manager of Qikiqtaaluk Fisheries Corporation, offered to help store the supplies in his company's warehouse.

"The response so far today has been awesome," he said.

Hickey contacted Freightway International operations manager David Andrews, who arranged a 53-foot trailer to carry supplies to southwestern Newfoundland

Andrews said his company uses trucks that travel through Port aux Basques every day.

"Every time that the truckers are in need, Port aux Basques is there to help, so it's our time to turn around and give it back to the community," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Gillis

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