Restoration efforts underway after high winds knock out power across the Maritimes

Click to play video: 'Strong winds batter the Maritimes' Strong winds batter the Maritimes
WATCH: It was a wild and windy night across the Maritimes, with powerful winds leaving thousands in the dark. Several schools were closed due to the outages, while residents dealt with fallen trees, downed branches and flying debris. Alexa MacLean reports. – Dec 10, 2019

More than 60,000 homes and businesses across the Maritimes were without power Tuesday morning as a storm system bringing high winds and heavy rain swept through the region.

In Saint John, N.B., two apartment buildings were evacuated overnight when strong winds left their roofs badly damaged.

The City of Saint John said that crews responded to a call at the Regency Towers complex at approximately 3:00 a.m. Officials say the roof of one of the six-storey buildings on Heather Way was “compromised” due to the strong winds.

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READ MORE: Heavy wind, rain to kick off the week in Halifax

The Canadian Red Cross says no one was injured but more than 100 tenants were forced to evacuate.

Saint John has established a temporary reception centre at Simonds High School for those displaced by the storm. They say that 47 evacuees, representing 32 families, have registered with the Canadian Red Cross for assistance.

Crews have begun the cleanup, but an assessment of the damage will need to be done before an estimated return date can be given.

On the west side, 16 residents were forced to leave a building at 57 Ocean Crescent after its roof was also damaged.

Click to play video: 'Wind gusts destroy 2 Saint John buildings' Wind gusts destroy 2 Saint John buildings
Wind gusts destroy 2 Saint John buildings – Dec 10, 2019

Just after 8 a.m., more than 50,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were in the dark. In New Brunswick, about 11,000 NB Power customers had no electricity.

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The storm moved into the region overnight and the winds picked up through the morning, with Environment Canada saying gusts have measured between 90 and 110 kilometres per hour in exposed areas.

In Saint John, where there were hundreds of people were left in the dark, say widespread or extended power outages are not something common.

“We very seldom lose power here on the west side,” said resident Greg Dunham. “(Saint John Energy) have an excellent record and do a great job.”

Click to play video: 'Global News Morning Forecast: December 10' Global News Morning Forecast: December 10
Global News Morning Forecast: December 10 – Dec 10, 2019

Dunham was among those left in the dark for at least part of the day on Tuesday. He is among those who are becoming less surprised when these conditions arrive believing climate change is to blame.

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“The wind was howling quite strong,” Dunham said. “I don’t think it’s going to get any better. I think we’re only going to get worse winds now.”

Nova Scotia Power said it has 222 power-line technicians and 78 forestry technicians responding to and repairing storm damage throughout the province. 

Click to play video: 'Coast guard begins work to secure derelict ship in Bridgewater' Coast guard begins work to secure derelict ship in Bridgewater
Coast guard begins work to secure derelict ship in Bridgewater – Dec 9, 2019

Photos from social media show downed trees and power lines, and what appears to be the collapsed remains of a small building on Marvin Street in Dartmouth that was still under construction.

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The Halifax Regional Centre for Education has closed a number of schools throughout the capital region due to power outages, including:

  • Atlantic Memorial, Brookside Junior High
  • Charles P. Allen High School
  • Five Bridges Junior High, Harrietsfield Elementary
  • Highland Park Junior High
  • Inglis Street Elementary
  • Prospect Road Elementary
  • Sambro Elementary
  • St. Stephen’s Elementary
  • Upper Musquodoboit
  • Consolidated School
  • Halifax West High School
  • Park West School
  • Joseph Howe Elementary
  • St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary
  • Holland Road Elementary
  • Shatford Memorial Elementary
  • Halifax Central Junior High

In Sydney, 60 people living at Cape Breton University had to be evacuated after the strong winds damaged a roof. The Canadian Red Cross says that resulted in some interior flooding and potential damage to the electrical service of a 48-unit apartment building.

“Cape Breton Regional Municipality ordered the evacuation early this afternoon of all residents of the four-storey building at 297 Rotary Drive,” a release from the Red Cross reads, “and arranged for municipal transit buses to bring tenants to the Centre 200 sports complex in downtown Sydney.”

The Red Cross adds that there currently isn’t an indication of when tenants will be allowed to return to the building.

A construction crane in Sydney Harbour also toppled to the ground due to the high winds. The crane is on a barge that is part of the construction of a new cruise ship wharf for the city.

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There were no injuries reported, and other than the crane, there was no damage to the barge.

The project to build a second berth for cruise ships is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

— With files from Andrew Cromwell and Travis Fortnum. 

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