Fiona, a record-setting storm, leaves path of destruction in eastern Canada

Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall early Saturday morning, bringing severe wind, heavy rain, and leaving hundreds of thousands without power across eastern Canada.

According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, the storm made landfall early Saturday morning over eastern Guysborough County, N.S. As it passed over Hart Island, the storm has an unofficial recorded pressure of 931.6 — making Fiona the lowest pressured storm on record to make landfall in Canada.

The fierce storm toppled a number of trees across the region, with some falling into power lines, cars and houses, and there have been multiple reports of blocked and washed out roads as crews begin assessing damage in areas where the storm has already passed.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were affected by outages Saturday morning — almost 80 per cent of the homes and businesses it serves. According to the Nova Scotia Power outage map, about 367,000 customers are still without power as of 4 p.m.

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Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,000 were without electricity.

As of 3 p.m., Fiona was over the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence and was expected to track northeastward Saturday evening, before turning more northward tonight to reach the Quebec lower north shore and southeastern Labrador by late overnight.

“Severe winds are still occurring over Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, western Newfoundland, and portions of eastern Quebec,” the Canadian Hurricane Centre said.

“There are also large waves, especially for the southwest coast of Newfoundland, Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, and eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is storm surge occurring for parts of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and western Newfoundland.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged the federal government’s help on Saturday to areas feeling the “terrible impact” the storm.

“This is a very powerful and dangerous storm,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau convened an Incident Response Group meeting with Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and other officials and during his address to the nation said the government will be there for Canadians impacted by the storm.

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Trudeau also noted he will no longer be attending the funeral of the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which he had been set to attend next week.

He will make his way to the impacted areas when it is possible to do so.

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“The last thing I want to do is displace any of the extraordinary emergency teams and authorities who are rightly focusing on everything needed on the ground,” said Trudeau.

“But I will be out there to see people and to demonstrate that all Canadians stand with them as quickly as is responsible.”

Anita Anand, Canada’s minister of national defense, also help is on the way.

“To everyone in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec, we are activating the necessary resources to help you. We will continue to stand with you and I want to emphasize that even before we received a request for assistance, the Canadian armed forces had been preparing and mobilizing in case they were called upon to help.

“At this moment, the reconnaisance…is occurring to ensure that we deploy where and when as needed,” Anand said when asked how soon the CAF will be deployed.

As soon as the reconnaissance is done, they’ll be deployed “for as long as it takes.”

The Canadian Armed Forces will also be using aerial assets to assess the damage of the storm from above.

Port aux Basques woman missing

A state of emergency was declared in the Newfoundland town of Port aux Basques, with Mayor Brian Button saying some houses have been washed away amid high winds and surging seas.

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At least two Port aux Basques residents were reported to have been swept away from their homes into the ocean as the storm battered the region Saturday morning.

Bystanders rescued one woman who was “tossed into the water,” according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jolene Garland, and she is believed to be in good physical condition.

The RCMP has opened a missing person case as a result of the other report, Garland added, as the storm conditions haven’t allowed officers to investigate the area where she was said to have been swept out to the ocean.

RCMP say first responders are dealing with electrical fires and residential flooding and are urging all residents to find somewhere safe to ride out the storm.

On the Nova Scotia island of Cape Breton, local states of emergency have also been declared in Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Victoria County, and residents are being told to shelter in place.

Click to play video: 'Storm Fiona: Nova Scotia resident comes across vehicle on collapsed road in Cape Breton'
Storm Fiona: Nova Scotia resident comes across vehicle on collapsed road in Cape Breton

In Charlottetown, city officials are advising residents seeking shelter at local reception centres to remain where they are until it is safe to move through the city.

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“From tonight until possibly Sunday, stay inside unless it is absolutely necessary,” the city said in a statement. “Stay off the roads, and expect continuing power outages.”

Residents woke up to howling winds Saturday morning after a night that saw sheets of rain envelop the city.

The city remains strewn with fallen trees and downed power lines, and several streets remain blocked.

“Our dispatch centre received over a hundred calls overnight regarding downed trees and power lines,” the statement said. “Crews are doing what they can, but the majority of the cleanup work will begin once wind speeds decrease from the levels we are currently experiencing.”

Police said on Twitter that “conditions are like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

“We are logging reports of downed trees and wires but will only be responding to emergency calls,” it said.

Premier Dennis King reiterated the need to stay home at a press briefing on Saturday, saying that Fiona’s impact has been far-reaching.

“The devastation looks to be beyond anything we have witnessed before in Prince Edward Island,” he said, noting it will take weeks for the island to recover from the storm.

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“There’s significant damage to public infrastructure across the province and while we haven’t even been able to assess the damage…we know it has been devastating…the damage is quite likely the worse we’ve ever seen,” said King.

King also said he has been in touch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and has requested disaster assistance.

Meanwhile in New Brunswick, Main Street in Shediac was barricaded off as the street was completely flooded, with waves crashing against houses in the area.

In nearby Pointe-du-Chêne, the wharf was completely underwater Saturday morning.

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The Canadian Hurricane Centre says conditions will improve over the eastern portion of the Maritimes later today, and over Îles-de-la-Madeleine and southwestern Newfoundland late overnight.

— with files from Global News’ Aya Al-Hakim & Irelyne Lavery & The Canadian Press

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