Ferry passengers 'make the best of the situation' as they await word on retrieving vehicles, belongings

·2 min read
Don Cormier says he's never experienced a fire or evacuation aboard a ship in his 25 years with Northumberland Ferries Ltd. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Don Cormier says he's never experienced a fire or evacuation aboard a ship in his 25 years with Northumberland Ferries Ltd. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Passengers who were rescued from the MV Holiday Island because of a fire on Friday will not be able to retrieve their vehicles and belongings until at least sometime on Saturday, said Don Cormier, vice-president of Northumberland Ferries Ltd.

The ferry remains anchored near the dock and is not mobile.

"We've called for tugs, called for assistance to be able to eventually move the ship into port so that we can discharge the vehicles that are on board, and we think that'll be in the next 24 to 48 hours," Cormier said early Friday evening.

Many of the nearly 200 passengers already had accommodations, or were able to find them with friends or family.

Busloads of passengers were taken to Stratford Town Hall where Emergency Measures officials found places to stay for the nearly 40 people without accommodations.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The Red Cross prepared more than 120 care kits for those in need.

Cormier said it's the first time in his 25 years with Northumberland Ferries that a ferry had to be evacuated.

He apologized to the passengers, but many CBC spoke with were taking it in stride.

Andrea Tierney said the kids, including her son, seemed to enjoy sliding down the inflatable tube from the ferry to the safety of a rubber dinghy.

We feel very fortunate. We feel it could have been much worse. — Claire Delisle

They were planning a four-day vacation on the Island after coming over from Nova Scotia.

"We're going to spend the night at the Delta, and find some toothbrushes and see what we can do to make the best of the situation until tomorrow."

Twelve-year-old Rachael Bonvie said she was scared at the time, but was feeling OK once she got safely to shore.

"Me and my brother and my grandparents were standing on the deck looking at the water because we could just see the Island and the fire alarm started going off and we thought somebody pulled it to be funny or it was the alarm to go back to your car but I turned right around and there was smoke coming from the engine thing on top. It was kind of scary."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Claire Delisle and Jim Conboy of Ottawa came to P.E.I. on a camping trip. Their food and belongings are still in their vehicle on the ferry.

"We feel very fortunate. We feel it could have been much worse," Claire said.

"We'll just wait to get a phone call, and hopefully, we'll be able to come and retrieve our vehicle tomorrow."

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