Residents of Charlottetown woke up to howling winds, broken branches and downed power lines Saturday morning after a night that saw sheets of rain envelop the city.
“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.”
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.
He said it will take weeks for the island to recover from this.
“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.
He said some communities have lost critical infrastructure, such as bridges and causeways at critical entry points.
“We will work as humanely possible to restore this,” King said. “We know, pre-maturely as it is, that our response will be measured in the multi-millions.”
In the meantime, King said he has been in touch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and has requested disaster assistance.
As of Saturday afternoon, 95 per cent of the province is without power. King said crews won’t get out to restore power until winds fall below 80 km/hr.
Cell service has also been an issue and King is asking people to limit their usage.
At the Charlottetown airport, the wind was gusting at 120 km/h at 10 a.m. local time, and a 150 km/h gust was recorded at the eastern edge of the Island at East Point.
Steve Clements, who spent the night at Jack Blanchard Hall, one of Charlottetown’s temporary shelters, said he was thankful to be “out of the elements.” He said most other shelters are open from around 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is inconvenient during a major storm.
“It’s temporary. It’s also really loud. And it’s not easy to sleep,” he said with a laugh pointing around the room. “But … It’s better than the alternative. It’s better than being out.”
Another Charlottetown resident said she would hear the wind all night banging against the wall.
“You could hear water dripping down. It was kinda scary,” said Carly Connell. “I was up about five or six times during the night. I could sleep intermittently, but I definitely had some spurts of being afraid.”
“We walked out this morning to go to my car to get a flashlight and more than half the trees were fallen over, it was crazy,” she added.
The acting director of public safety for PEI, Tanya Mullally, said at the briefing that Fiona is moving out of the province and heading towards Newfoundland.
“There’s still some rain, heavy rainfall warnings have ended but we are still seeing some high winds, however, they are starting to dip below the 100 km/hr mark,” Mullally said.
She said the winds will dip even further by supper time.
“Tomorrow will be … the calm after the storm,” Mullally said.
In the meantime, coastal flooding remains a threat for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, including the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of St. Lawrence region, as well as Iles-de-la-Madeleine and eastern New Brunswick, southwest Newfoundland, the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Quebec Lower North Shore.
Hurricane and tropical storm warnings remain in effect for most areas.
The hurricane centre said conditions will improve over western Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick later in the day but will persist elsewhere.
-With files from Silas Brown and the Canadian Press