Fiona sweeps away houses, shuts off power in eastern Canada

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TORONTO — Fiona washed homes into the sea, ripped off the roofs of others and knocked out power to the vast majority of two Canadian provinces when it made landfall as a large, powerful post-tropical cyclone before dawn on Saturday.

Fiona turned from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late Friday, but it still had gale-force winds, bringing drenching rain and huge waves. There was no confirmation of dead or injured.

Ocean waves battered the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the south coast of Newfoundland, washing entire buildings into the sea. Mayor Brian Button said Saturday via social media that people were being evacuated to high ground when winds downed power lines.

“I see houses in the ocean. I see debris floating everywhere. It is complete and utter destruction. There’s an apartment gone,” René J. Roy, a resident of Channel-Port Aux Basques and editor-in-chief at Wreckhouse Press, said in a phone interview.

Roy estimates that between eight and twelve houses and buildings were washed into the sea. “It’s pretty scary,” he said.

Fiona turned from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late Friday.
AP

Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador, said a woman was safe and in “good health” after she was “thrown into the water when her house collapsed” in the Channel-Port Aux Basques region. . Garland said one person who may have been swept away was still reported missing and that high winds prevented an aerial search.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the town of 4,000 is under a state of emergency as authorities grapple with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has canceled his trip to Japan to attend the funeral of assassinated ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trudeau said the federal government will deploy Canadian forces in support.

“We see devastating images from Port aux Basques. PEI (Prince Edward Island) has seen storm damage like you’ve never seen before. Cape Breton will also be hit hard,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said the federal government will deploy Canadian forces in support.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has canceled his trip to Japan for Shinzo Abe’s funeral.
AP

“Canadians are thinking of all affected by Hurricane Fiona, which is devastating the Atlantic provinces and eastern Quebec, particularly the Magdalen Islands. There are people who see their homes destroyed, people who are very worried – we will be there for you.”

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the roof of an apartment building collapsed and they took 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously injured or killed. Provincial officials said there were other residential buildings that were also significantly damaged. Halifax has evicted about 160 people from two homes, officials said.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% of the province of nearly 1 million people — were affected by power outages Saturday morning. Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island, about 95%, were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without power.

The Canadian Hurricane Center tweeted early Saturday that Fiona had the lowest pressures ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be one of the strongest storms to hit the country.

“We get more severe storms,” ​​Trudeau said on Saturday.

He said more resilient infrastructure is needed to withstand extreme weather events and said one storm in a 100-year storm could occur every few years due to climate change.

“Things are only going to get worse,” Trudeau said.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor and Council have also declared a local state of emergency.

“There are houses that have been significantly damaged by fallen trees, large old trees that have fallen and caused significant damage. We also see houses whose roofs have been completely torn off, windows smashed. There is a huge amount of debris on the streets,” Cape Breton Regional Mayor Amanda McDougall told The Associated Press

“At this point there is a lot of damage to property and buildings but no injuries to people. Again, we’re still in the thick of it,” she said. “It’s still terrifying. I’m sitting here in my living room right now and it feels like the patio doors are about to smash in with these big gusts.”

Provincial officials said there were other residential buildings that were also significantly damaged.  Halifax has evicted about 160 people from two homes, officials said.
The roof of an apartment building collapsed and they took 100 people to an evacuation center in Halifax.
AP

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said roads had been eroded, including his own, and said an “incredible” amount of trees had fallen.

“It’s pretty devastating. The sad reality is that the people who need information cannot hear it. Their phones don’t work, they don’t have electricity, they don’t have access to the internet,” Houston said.

Nova Scotia Power President and CEO Peter Gregg said unprecedented spike winds caused severe damage. “In many areas, weather conditions are still too dangerous for our crews to get up in our bucket wagons,” Gregg said. He said about 380,000 customers were left without power as of Saturday afternoon.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said there were no reports of significant injuries or deaths. But he said few communities were spared damage and the devastation appeared to surpass anything they had previously seen in the province. He said over 95% of the islanders were left without power.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Secretary Bill Blair said there was extensive damage to the airport in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He said other airports were also hit, but damage at Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest airport, was minor.

Fiona had weakened to tropical storm strength late Saturday afternoon as it moved across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In its final report on Fiona, the US Hurricane Center said it had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h). It was centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Port aux Basques and moving northeast at 8 mph (13 km/h).

Tropical storm winds extended outward as much as 550 miles (890 kilometers).

Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their primary source of energy. But post-tropical cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds despite having a cold core and no visible eye. They also often lose their symmetrical shape and more closely resemble a comma.

In Sydney, Nova Scotia, the largest city in Cape Breton, about 20 people took refuge at the Center 200 sports and entertainment facility, said Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the area. Lamey said hundreds of people were displaced in the province.

Arlene and Robert Grafilo fled to Center 200 with their children, ages 3 and 10, after a giant tree fell on their duplex.

“We were trapped and couldn’t open the doors and windows, so we decided to call 911,” Arlene Grafilo said. She said the fire department eventually saved her.

There were two deaths in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.
Fiona has been blamed for at least five deaths so far.
AP

Peter MacKay, a former secretary of state and secretary of defense who lives in Nova Scotia, said he and his family had a late night and said the wind was still raging in the afternoon.

“We had cleared everything we could out of the way, but the house was hit pretty hard. Many clapboards lost, severe water damage in ceilings, walls, our deck is destroyed. A garage I built blew away,” MacKay said in an email to The Associated Press.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve been through some crazy weather,” he added.

He called the images from Newfoundland heartbreaking.

Fiona has been blamed for at least five deaths so far – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.

In the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian has been forecast to intensify rapidly in the coming days. The US National Hurricane Center said it could move across western Cuba and toward the west coast of Florida, or the Florida Panhandle, by the middle of next week.

Ian was centered about 230 miles (370 kilometers) south of Kingston, Jamaica, early Saturday evening. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) and was moving west at 14 mph (22 km/h). A hurricane watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands.



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