Powerful storm Fiona ripped into eastern Canada on Saturday with
hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, knocking down trees and
powerlines, and reducing many homes on the coast to “just a pile of
rubble in the ocean,” Trend reports citing Reuters.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the center of the
storm, downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was now in the
Gulf of St. Lawrence and losing some steam. The NHC canceled
hurricane and tropical storm warnings for the region.
Port aux Basques, on the southwest tip of Newfoundland with a
population of 4,067, bore the brunt of the storm’s rage.
The mayor was forced to declare a state of emergency and
evacuated parts of the town that suffered flooding and road
Several homes and an apartment building were dragged out to sea,
Rene Roy, editor-in-chief of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques,
told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“This is hands down the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in
my life,” Roy said, describing many homes as “just a pile of rubble
in the ocean right now.”
“There is an apartment building that’s literally gone. There are
entire streets that are gone,” he added. Police are investigating
whether a woman had been swept to sea, CBC reported.
“We’ve gone through a very difficult morning,” Button said in a
Facebook video, adding that the evacuations had been completed.
“We’ll get through this. I promise you we will get through it.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met on Saturday morning with
members of a government emergency response team, and later told
reporters that the armed forces would be deployed to help with the
“We’re seeing reports of significant damage in the region, and
recovery is going to be a big effort,” Trudeau said. “We will be
there to support every step of the way.”
Trudeau had delayed his planned Saturday departure for Japan to
attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but said he
now would no longer make the trip. Instead he said he would visit
the storm-damaged region as soon as possible.
Federal assistance has already been approved for Nova Scotia,
Trudeau said, and more requests are expected.
Fiona, which nearly a week ago battered Puerto Rico and other
parts of the Caribbean, killed at least eight and knocked out power
for virtually all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people during a
sweltering heat wave.
Fiona made landfall between Canso and Guysborough, Nova Scotia,
where the Canadian Hurricane Centre said it recorded what may have
been the lowest barometric pressure of any storm to hit land in the
Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre,
told Reuters it appears Fiona lived up to expectations that it
would be a “historical” storm.
“It did look like it had the potential to break the all-time
record in Canada, and it looks like it did,” he said. “We’re still
not out of this yet.”
Storms are not uncommon in the region and typically cross over
rapidly, but Fiona is expected to impact a very large area.
While scientists have not yet determined whether climate change
influenced Fiona’s strength or behavior, there is strong evidence
that these devastating storms are getting worse.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WITHOUT POWER
Some 69% of customers, or 360,720 were without power in Nova
Scotia, and 95%, or more than 82,000, had lost power on Prince
Edward Island, utility companies said. Police across the region
reported multiple road closures. The region was also experiencing
spotty mobile phone service.
Mobile and Wifi provider Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO)
said it was aware of outages caused by Fiona, and that crews would
work to restore service “as quickly as possible.”
PEI produces more than a fifth of Canada’s potatoes and the
island’s potato farms, which are in harvest season, were likely to
be impacted by the storm, Hubbard said.
“This morning we all woke up to some very scary scenes, roads
washed down, uprooted trees, mail boxes where they are not supposed
to be,” Darlene Compton, deputy premier of PEI, told reporters,
saying it had been a “nerve wracking” night.
In Halifax, 11 boats sank at the Shearwater Yacht Club and four
were grounded, said Elaine Keene, who has a boat at the club that
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said no injuries or fatalities
had been reported so far, and officials from both PEI and Nova
Scotia said the same.
The storm weakened somewhat as it traveled north. By 5 pm in
Halifax (2100 GMT), it was over the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 80
miles (130 km) northwest of Port aux Basques, carrying maximum
sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (110 kph), the NHC said.