Feds move from ‘response’ to ‘recovery’ following Fiona

Click to play video: 'Fiona hits Atlantic Canada, Ontario steers clear'
Fiona hits Atlantic Canada, Ontario steers clear
Post-tropical storm Fiona is set to hit the Atlantic coast making for yet another major weather event that will have missed Ontario. The last major event was Hurricane Hazel in 1954. Ahmar Khan reports – Sep 24, 2022

The federal government has moved from a “posture of response” to post-tropical storm Fiona to one of “recovery,” Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness, said Sunday.

“Time is of the essence and a speedy response is what’s required,” he said, during a press conference held by a number of federal ministers to provide an update on the storm.

“We have been able to move quickly because of the extensive planning and positioning resources that began early last week in close collaboration with the provinces.”

Federal assistance has now been approved for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

As of Sunday morning a Canadian army reconnaissance team from the Canadian army division was in Cape Breton working with provincial authorities to evaluate the damage and “identify what military capabilities including equipment and personnel can best assist,” according to Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence.

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Three platoons are available to assist the province and the navy has a ready duty ship in Halifax.

Equipment will also be provided to help restore power, roads, and bridges where the provinces’ civil authorities need assistance, Anand said.

Click to play video: 'Hurricane Fiona moves into Canadian waters'
Hurricane Fiona moves into Canadian waters

In Prince Edward Island, the federal government has approved a request to assist in removal of trees and debris from roadways.

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The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be there with three platoons available, according to Anand.
By Sunday evening, the CAF had been deployed in Prince Edward Island to assist in removing vegetation and debris so the province can restore power, according to Wayne Eyre, chief of defence staff.

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“We are deploying troops immediately to help with this effort,” he said online Sunday evening.

A request for assistance from Newfoundland and Labrador has also been approved by the federal government.

Canadian Rangers have been engaged to assess the situation in western Newfoundland and three platoons are available to assist the province, Anand said.

According to Blair, the CAF and Transport Canada will be deployed to use aerial imagery “to get a better sense of the destruction in the province.”

CAF will also conduct physical impact assessments, he added.

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The body of a 73-year old woman from Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, was found shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday, the RCMP confirmed.

The woman was reported missing on Saturday morning after her home was damaged by the storm.

Her death marks the first confirmed fatality connected to the storm.

There are approximately 100 personnel per province available to assist Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Anand.

“The CAF stand ready to pull more troops forward that are currently on heightened readiness,” she said.

In Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, the Canadian Rangers are staying put so they can provide information to the federal government, should assistance be requested from that province.

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The air force is also establishing an air task force in Gagetown, New Brunswick, and has placed a number of aircraft on “high readiness to move,” according to Anand.

Minister of National Defence Anita Anand is seen via videoconference behind Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Dominic LeBlanc during a news conference on the federal government’s response to Hurricane Fiona in Ottawa on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Provincial Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault confirmed that 30 and 40 people were forced to leave their homes in Quebec, but no one was hurt.

In Ottawa, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he has been in touch with the heads of Bell, Rogers, Eastlink and Xplornet to ensure they were working to restore disrupted phone and internet services.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened another Incident Response Group meeting on Sunday to discuss the storm’s impact. This is the second time the group has met to discuss the storm.

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“During the meeting, the group expressed concern over the devastating impacts of the hurricane. Despite efforts over the last 24 hours, thousands of Canadians remain without power, and many people in the most affected regions have lost homes and been displaced due to flooding, extremely high winds, and storm surges,” according to a news release.

“The Prime Minister urged Canadians to stay safe by following the advice from their local authorities. (He) committed to visiting impacted areas as soon as it is possible and responsible to do so.”

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

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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.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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