After months of complaining, Murray Hardy received compensation for his destroyed home in Burnt Islands. (Colleen Connors/CBC)
Murray Hardy opened the door to his basement and out poured a strong smell of mould and wet wood.
He could hear the water crashing into his Burnt Islands home the day post-tropical storm Fiona hit southwestern Newfoundland in September 2022.
"It smashed in through the basement, took concrete and all, washing everything out in the bottom of my basement. Two bedrooms, laundry room, rec room, everything bottom up," he said.
"The basement full of sewage, kelp, mud. I was two weeks trying to clean it out. I used 20 gallons of Javex and a pressure washer."
Eleven households in Burnt Islands were destroyed a year ago, deemed damaged beyond repair.
Hardy's house, however, was not put on that list — until, that is, late last week, when he got a call from the Newfoundland and Labrador government about a settlement.
"It's not feasible to repair the damage that's done to it. They offered us a settlement to move, and we accepted it," he said.
Enough to rebuild
Hardy feels good with what was offered to him, his wife and his son. He says they will receive $200 a square foot for their home on the causeway in Burnt Islands.
For months, Hardy felt like he was never going to see any financial help for his destroyed home.
A line in the wall shows how high the water rose in Hardy's basement during Hurricane Fiona. (Colleen Connors/CBC)
The powerful surge cracked the foundation and jeopardized the structure of his home. Now, every time there is rain and wind, his basement fills up again with water, sewage and seaweed.
The walls in his basement show a clear water line, about 1.5 metres up the wall. He's been cleaning the mould off the walls for months — all while sharing his concerns with anyone who would listen.
"I have been fighting this since October. I've talked to so many people half the time now I do not even know who I'm talking to. It's a disgrace."
He filed an application with the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement almost a year ago. Engineers and electricians visited his property, but he still did not receive any confirmation about compensation until now.
"I personally don't think it should have been," he said.
Fighting for months
"Why was everyone saying be patient, be patient. My house filled up with water twice since Fiona. And that's what broke the basement."
CBC requested an interview with Andrew Parsons, the provincial energy and industry minister who represents the area. Instead, the Department of Justice and Public Safety issued a statement, saying it cannot speak to individual cases but did say a few complex files in Burnt Islands required additional adjuster and engineer assessments.
Hurricane Fiona's surge crashed into Hardy's basement, house foundation and patio. (Colleen Connors/CBC)
More than $40 million has been distributed to 102 property owners in six communities whose homes were deemed to be a total loss. There were 11 in Burnt Islands, but Hardy's property makes 12.
Hardy says he received enough money to buy another home. He plans on moving to the east coast of the island, He would have liked to rebuild in Burnt Islands, but says he has to get away from the water's edge and the destruction it can bring.