The past is present on the Juanniversary | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

The past is present on the Juanniversary

Exactly 19 years after Hurricane Juan, the recovery continues from Hurricane Fiona.

Hurricane Juan made landfall around Peggys Cove, west of the city’s core by about 40km, on September 28, 2003, wreaking havoc on trees, buildings and power lines. That was 19 years ago, but it might as well have been today. When this Juanniversary Wednesday began, more than 100,000 people were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

The past is present on the Juanniversary
Nova Scotia Power's outage map shows 104,976 customers without power on September 28, 2022, exactly 19 years after Hurricane Juan left the province powerless.

In The Coast’s world, our office lost electricity during Juan, so we scrambled to set up a satellite headquarters in the Khyber Building, where the power was still on, to produce a newspaper. Here’s what that looked like:

click to enlarge The past is present on the Juanniversary
The Coast
From left to right, 2003 Coast staffers Neil Fraser, Denise Williams and Lynne Patterson in hurricane pop-up office.

After Fiona, which hit on Friday, the office had power but no internet, and nobody’s cell phone had reliable signal, so again we scrambled to do journalism. For a case of deja vu, here we are set up in the Halifax Central Library’s Room 302:

click to enlarge The past is present on the Juanniversary
The Coast
From left to right, 2022 Coasters Kyle Shaw, Morgan Mullin, Kaija Jussinoja and Matt Stickland in hurricane pop-up office.

It’s depressing to look back on the past 19 years and realize what has—and hasn’t—changed between the storms. How did Fiona manage to thump Halifax so hard when it made landfall 200km to the east, around Canso? Because global heating is making hurricanes bigger and stronger. Why aren’t the utility companies better prepared for these predictable, worsening disasters? Because in a monopoly (Nova Scotia Power) or oligopoly (Rogers, Bell Aliant, Eastlink), doing nothing while charging more is the simplest way to make profits.

Will it take a revolution to shake the companies out of complacency? Let’s not wait another 19 years to find out.

If your device can spare the power, take a wander through the archive of Coast stories we produced immediately after Juan struck.

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.
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