© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Francis Bruhm, project manager for general contractor G&R Kelly, places sandbags around the doors of the Nova Scotia Power building ahead of Hurricane Fiona’s landfall in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on May 23 September 2022. REUTERS/Ingrid Bulme
By Eric Martyn and John Morris
STEPHENVILLE, Newfoundland (Reuters) – Powerful storm Fiona slammed into eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, downing trees and power lines and knocking down many homes on the coast to “just a pile of rubble in the ocean”.
The US 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 speed. The NHC canceled hurricane and tropical storm warnings for the region.
Port aux Basques, at the southwestern 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 evacuate areas of the city that had been flooded and washed away by the roads.
Several houses and an apartment building were dragged out to sea, Rene Roy, editor of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“It’s by far 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 a building that has literally disappeared. There are whole streets that have disappeared,” he added. Police are investigating whether a woman was swept away at sea, CBC reported.
“We’ve been through a very tough morning,” Button said in a Facebook video (NASDAQ:), adding that the evacuations were over. “We’ll get through this. I promise you we’ll get through this.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with members of a government emergency response team on Saturday morning and later told reporters the armed forces would be deployed to help with the cleanup.
“We are seeing reports of significant damage in the area, and recovery is going to take a big effort,” Trudeau said. “We will be there to support you every step of the way.”
Trudeau had delayed his scheduled departure for Japan on Saturday to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but said he would no longer make the trip. Instead, he said he would travel to the storm-damaged area as soon as possible.
Federal aid has already been approved for Nova Scotia, Trudeau said, and more requests are expected.
Fiona, which battered Puerto Rico nearly a week ago and other parts of the Caribbean, killed at least eight people and knocked out power to nearly 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 Center said it recorded what may have been the lowest barometric pressure of any storm to make landfall in the country’s history.
Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Ian Hubbard told Reuters it appears Fiona has lived up to expectations that it will be a “historic” storm.
“It looked like he had the potential to break the all-time Canadian record, and it looks like he did,” he said. “We’re not out of it yet.”
Storms are not uncommon in the region and usually intersect quickly, but Fiona is expected to affect a very large area.
Although scientists have not yet determined whether climate change has 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 in Prince Edward Island, the companies said. public services. Police across the region reported multiple road closures. The area also experienced spotty mobile phone service.
Mobile and Wi-Fi service provider Rogers (NYSE:) Communications Inc said it was aware of the outages caused by Fiona and that crews would work to restore service “as soon as possible”.
Prince Edward Island produces more than a fifth of Canada’s potatoes and potato farms on the island, which are in harvest season, are at risk of being affected by the storm, a said Hubbard.
“This morning we all woke up to some very scary scenes, washed out roads, uprooted trees, mailboxes where they weren’t supposed to be,” Darlene Compton, Deputy Premier of the Department of Health, told reporters. ‘Î. ” night.
In Halifax, 11 boats sank at the Shearwater Yacht Club and four ran aground, said Elaine Keene, who has a boat at the club that escaped damage.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said no injuries or deaths have been reported so far, and officials in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said the same. thing.
The storm weakened somewhat as it moved north. At 5 p.m. 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 km/h), said the NHC.
(Reporting Eric Martyn in Halifax and John Morris in Stephenville; Additional reporting by Ivelisse Rivera in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa, and Denny Thomas in Toronto; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis)