Officials in Nova Scotia are assessing the damage from post-tropical storm Fiona, which swept through the province Saturday, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
The fierce storm toppled trees, washed out roads, forced evacuations and left hundreds of thousands without power across the province.
During a news conference Saturday afternoon, Premier Tim Houston described the damage as “devastating.”
“As the storm continues along its path, damage assessments are well underway, and I can tell you our situation right now is where none of us want it to be,” he said.
“I dread to think of where we would be, had Nova Scotians not taken every single possible precaution to protect themselves and their families.”
John Lohr, the minister responsible for the provincial Emergency Management Office, said the magnitude of the storm was “breathtaking” and was just as powerful as it was predicted to be.
Lohr said he requested disaster financial assistance and military assistance from the federal government, and the request has been granted.
He said damage assessments have begun, but they will take some time.
“The reality is the storm isn’t even over yet,” he said Saturday afternoon, noting that Cape Breton was still feeling the tail end of Fiona’s effects. “It will take a few days to get damage assessments, that’s for sure.”
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Christina Lamey, a spokesperson for Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said there are “hundreds” of people displaced right now. She said the top priority is getting emergency shelter for people without a home.
“We’re encouraging everyone who is safely sheltered to remain there,” she said. “We are not recommending travel at this time. So unless someone is not safe at home, they should not be traveling to any (comfort) centres.”
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage noted that Halifax Regional Municipality was also hit hard, with downed power lines and widespread outages.
“We ask people to be patient,” he said
According to Erica Fleck, assistant chief of emergency management with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, two apartment buildings in Halifax were “severely damaged” during the storm, forcing the evacuation of 160 residents.
Power restoration could take ‘multiple days’
During the news conference, Peter Gregg, president and CEO of Nova Scotia power, said Fiona caused “widespread and severe damage.”
While NSP crews have been working to restore power, there were still 369,000 people in the dark across the province as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Gregg said the utility has opened a satellite emergency operations centre in Sydney, but it will take time to restore power to the places hardest-hit by the storm.
“Unfortunately, given the dangerous conditions for our crews and the widespread damage, there will be customers who will see outages for multiple days,” he said.
“We’ll get at the restoration as quickly and safely as we can, but recognizing the damage we’re seeing, I want to say there will be outages for multiple days.”
He said he understands the outages will be “challenging and frustrating” for customers, and said crews are working to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so.
Gregg also noted there are a number of downed power lines across the province, and urged people to treat them as though they are energized.
“Even if you think the power might be off in your neighbourhood, you must assume that those power lines are energized,” he said.
“Do not go near them, do not touch them, and please report them right away so that our crews can remove them and make it safe.”