WORLD

Hundreds of thousands without power in Atlantic Canada after Fiona rumbles north

Sep 26, 2022, 5:27 AM | Updated: Sep 28, 2022, 10:26 am
In this photo provided by Wreckhouse Press a home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical...
In this photo provided by Wreckhouse Press a home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical Storm Fiona in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The home has since been lost at sea. (Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press via AP)
(Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press via AP)
Originally Published: 25 SEP 22 05:59 ET
Updated: 26 SEP 22 02:23 ET

(CNN) — The storm named Fiona slammed into Canada’s eastern seaboard with hurricane-force winds and torrential rainfall Saturday, pulling buildings into the ocean, collapsing homes, toppling trees and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of people.

Fiona first wreaked havoc in the Caribbean as a hurricane before moving up the Atlantic and making landfall again as a post-tropical cyclone. The storm ripped a path of destruction in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland before weakening and moving out to sea Sunday.

Now, officials are beginning to account for the damage brought forth to the region.

Nova Scotia, where Fiona first made landfall during the early morning hours Saturday, was hit hard by the storm. Powerful winds toppled trees and power lines, washed out roads, littered neighborhoods with debris, and in many cases, snapped whole power poles in half, officials said.

Officials are prioritizing power restoration after Fiona ravaged power lines and communication networks across the province, Premier Tim Houston said Sunday morning.

“Getting roads cleared, giving space to the crews to do what needs to be done, that’s the most important thing right now,” Houston said. “It will take time.”

One person in Newfoundland reportedly died in the storm. Houston said there haven’t been too many reports of serious injuries, though about 200 people are currently displaced from their homes.

“The damage is significant, but right now that the priority right now is getting power back to people, getting people to a safe shelter, getting, you know, some return to normal,” he said. “That will take time when we come out of this.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that the government approved Nova Scotia’s request for federal assistance and that Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to help out in the region. The Prime Minister said residents lived through a “terrifying” 12 hours Saturday.

“People have seen their homes washed away, seen the winds rip schools’ roofs off,” Trudeau said. “And as Canadians, as we always do in times of difficulty, we will be there for each other.”

In Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown, police shared images of downed power lines over buildings, fallen trees blocking roadways and piercing through structures. The region’s utility, Maritime Electric, said it was concerned about people out walking and driving on streets where there is widespread damage from downed power lines and possible live wires.

Power outages across Nova Scotia

Several provinces were impacted by the heavy winds and rain, but none more than Nova Scotia. As of Monday morning, more than 284,400 customers were still without power across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick — including more than 190,400 in Nova Scotia, according to Poweroutage.com.

Nearly three quarters of Nova Scotia lost electricity as Fiona pushed through, Houston said Saturday. Peak wind gusts of 171 km/h (106 mph) were recorded in the province’s town of Arisaig Saturday. Meanwhile, Wreckhouse in Newfoundland saw 170 km/h (105 mph) gusts.

Poor weather conditions have hampered power restoration efforts, Nova Scotia Power President and CEO Peter Gregg said Saturday. More than 900 power technicians were on their way to the area, but some customers may experience power outages for several days, he said.

In Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, strong winds uprooted trees and downed power lines, sending sparks flying and lights flickering off.

A Halifax apartment complex’s roof collapsed, forcing about 100 people to leave for a shelter, Mayor Mike Savage told CNN Saturday.

“The magnitude of this storm has been breathtaking,” Savage later said at a Saturday news conference. “It turned out to be everything predicted.”

Osborne Head in Nova Scotia received 192 mm (7.55 inches) of rain and Crowe Brook in New Brunswick got 107 mm (4.2 inches), among other heavy rainfall amounts across the provinces.

‘Total war zone,’ Port aux Basques mayor says

In Newfoundland, video showed buildings floating in water and submerged cars under heavy rains. A woman was rescued from the water after her house collapsed, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She was taken to a hospital; the extent of her injuries wasn’t immediately known, police said.

Port aux Basques, a town at the southwest tip of Newfoundland, was also one of the worst-hit areas, Trudeau said Saturday.

“We’re seeing devastating images coming out of Port aux Basques,” he said. “Obviously as we see the images of houses falling into the sea, of waves destroying property and buildings, our first thought needs to be for people.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Sunday recovered the body of a 73-year-old woman who had been washed out to sea the day before in Port aux Basques.

“The woman was last seen inside the residence just moments before a wave struck the home, tearing away a portion of the basement,” police in a press release.

This is the first death attributed to Fiona in Canada. The storm claimed at least six other lives along its path — one in Guadeloupe, three in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic.

First responders in Port aux Basques were dealing with multiple electrical fires, residential flooding and washouts.

“We’ve got a total war zone here, we’ve got destruction everywhere,” Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said in a video update, warning that more storm surges are expected.

Port aux Basques is now under a boil water order, and power was still out for many residents. Concrete barriers were also set up around areas that were rendered “danger zones” by the storm, the mayor said.

The Port aux Basques tide gauge recorded a maximum total water level of 2.73 meters (8.96 feet) — topping its previous record of 2.71 (8.89 feet) meters set in 2017, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

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Related: Fearsome Hurricane Fiona could be Canada’s strongest-ever storm

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Hundreds of thousands without power in Atlantic Canada after Fiona rumbles north