Newfoundland family find hockey jerseys lost in post-tropical storm Fiona

Three Tupperware containers contain all that remains of Peggy Savery’s life and home since post-tropical storm Fiona devastated her Newfoundland community and swept away most of her belongings last September.

But those bins now have unexpected additions – three highly sentimental hockey jerseys she thought were lost forever.

Savery, who grew up in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and retired to her hometown with her husband four years ago, lost her home when it was destroyed by a massive wave generated by the storm murderous.

She and her husband fled, leaving behind almost all of their possessions, including her glasses and wallet. She said she accepts that many of her most prized possessions are not being recovered.

But in the first week of January, while Savery was spending time with her son David and her one-year-old granddaughter in Ottawa, she was surprised to receive a message from someone who had found two hockey jerseys belonging his family. A third arrived a few days later.

The jerseys belonged to David when he played hockey in school and military school.

Local resident Richard Spencer made the lucky discovery during a hunt in early January.

While strolling near the shore of Mouse Island on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, he came across a white hockey jersey with red and blue stripes and the name SAVERY on the back. He found another later that day and didn’t have to look far to find its rightful owner.

“I know the Saverys and their fate because the house they lost originally belonged to my family and was my childhood home,” he said.

“My parents sold it to the Saverys in 2019 and they started making it their forever home. So in that regard we have a certain connection. My dad built the house himself with my grandfather.

Spencer took the jerseys home in his kayak, dried them off, and made contact with Savery.

Spencer’s post, Savery said, sparked an emotional reaction throughout the family that’s hard to describe.

“[David]was really excited because he never thought he would ever see him again,” she said.

“I think he was happier for us because he saw what it means for us to get something lying around in the ground that looks like it’s worthless.”

The clean, folded jerseys now rest safely in a container with other items, which together form a tapestry of memories from before Fiona. These include a charm bracelet that Savery’s father gave to his mother and a candle holder that her husband’s nephew found in the waters near their home.

“My dad bought it for me years and years ago, before I even got married,” she said of the candlestick. “And that was really important to me because I remember going shopping with him and how excited I was that he bought it for me. … It was pretty exciting to get that back. I didn’t think I would see it.

Among the items she gave up on finding was her engagement ring, which she wasn’t wearing when Fiona knocked.

“At this point, there are so many little things that I know I won’t find,” she said with a sigh. “There’s nothing more important than another. Everything at this point – it’s nice to find something.

Savery has been living with her niece and her husband with her husband, another son and their two cats since the storm swept away their home.

“They didn’t complain, we didn’t argue, but it must be hard for them too,” she said of the relatives who took her in.

She said waiting for new homes is frustrating as she waits for the government to offer advice on next steps. The insurance company rejected her family’s claim after an eight-week wait and they were unable to apply for government assistance until that denial letter arrived, she said.

Savery said her life was in limbo right now. She feels lucky to be with a family that loves her and is grateful for her help, but she would like to have her own home and put the tragedy of the storm behind her.

“It’s really hard not having direction,” Savery said. “I try not to get upset and lose my temper, but every day is getting harder and harder.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 4, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial support of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Hina Alam and Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press


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