Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged the federal government’s help on Saturday to areas feeling the “terrible impact” of post-tropical storm Fiona, which left a trail of destruction through eastern Canada.
“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.
“Our government is fully engaged to help Canadians through this storm. We will be there to support every step of the way.”
Trudeau also said the government will match Red Cross donations made — from both Canadians and corporations — in the next 30 days.
“People have seen their homes washed away, seen the winds rip school roofs off, and as Canadians, as we always do in times of difficulty, we will be there for each other. Today and tomorrow the situation remains very dangerous. Please, stay safe, listen carefully to local authorities, and look out for each other,” the prime minister said.
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.
“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.”
Minister Blair said there are still many unknowns in this storm and the recovery “will take time.”
“The most important imperative is to stay safe, and when the storm has passed and it’s safe to do so in your community, I’d like you to take the opportunity to check on your family, your neighbours, your friends and your loved ones, and particular to those who may be living in vulnerable circumstances,” he said.
Anita Anand, Canada’s minister of national defense, reiterated similar sentiments, noting help is on the way.
“We have seen images of devastating images of Hurricane Fiona. As a Nova Scotian myself, my thoughts are with you all.”
“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.
Nova Scotia will receive disaster financial assistance and military assistance from the federal government to deal with the storm, the province’s emergency management minister said in a press conference on Saturday.
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John Lohr, Nova Scotia’s minister responsible for emergency management, said the storm has hit Cape Breton “very hard.”
Local states of emergency have been declared in two areas, including Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) and Victoria County this morning.
“We will be moving resources there as quickly as we can to help them,” said Lohr. “So to the mayor of CBRM, our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the many people in your community who have been so severely affected.”
Lohr added that the Nova Scotia government’s “thoughts and prayers” are with other affected provinces — Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec — as well.
Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia’s eastern Guysborough County early Saturday morning, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre. The post-tropical storm will continue to move northeastward throughout the day and is expected to reach Quebec on Sunday.
Tim Houston, Nova Scotia premier, published a tweet that asks Nova Scotians to stay close to home if it is safe as the storm makes its way through areas of Cape Breton.
“Please check in on your family, friends and neighbours,” wrote Houston. “Together, we’ll weather the storm. Stay safe everyone.”
In Quebec, Francois Legault, the province’s premier and leader of Coalition Avenir Quebec, said he has suspended his election campaign “until further notice” so the provincial government could focus on dealing with Fiona.
“We’re thinking of the people from Côte-Nord, Gaspésie and the Magdalen Islands. Hurricane Fiona appears to be heading directly towards the Islands,” Legault said. “We’re hoping for the best, but the whole government is staying ready.
“You’re made strong, Madelinots. Know that all of Quebec is with you.”
With power outages caused by post-tropical storm Fiona affecting many Atlantic Canadians, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said telecom services are vital.
“I expect all providers to ensure their services are working to the fullest extent possible in these circumstances and to assist each other if services go down,” said Champagne.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government continues to monitor the situation and remains in close communication with its emergency response partners.
“Please stay safe and avoid going outdoors when not necessary,” he said.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a tweet that “seeing the devastating images after Hurricane Fiona hit Atlantic Canada is heart breaking.”
“As clean up begins, know that Canadians across this country will be there with you every step of the way and that we have your back,” said Singh.
In a statement, Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre said the party will “ensure the federal government stands with provinces and municipalities while they restore services and provide emergency services for those in need.”
“Conservatives will do whatever we can to support these efforts and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Canadians as the storm continues,” it reads. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Atlantic Canada at this frightening and uncertain time.”
Former Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole also tweeted his concern for Canadians in Atlantic Canada on Saturday morning.
“Thinking of Atlantic Canada today as they begin to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Fiona,” said O’Toole. “Images out of Port Aux Basques are heartbreaking.”