Hurricane Fiona devastates the Canadian Maritimes
Fields of debris, uprooted trees and homes floating away in the sea. These were the images coming out of Atlantic Canada last weekend when post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall.
Despite Fiona being downgraded from hurricane to post-tropical storm before reaching the Maritimes, the CBC reported that peak winds were as high as 171km/h in some areas. The highest recorded rainfall was 192 millimetres in Osborne Head, a cape near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The hardest hit area was Port aux Basques, a small town of just over 4,000 residents on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador. The town declared a state of emergency on Saturday and began evacuations accordingly.
Some residents stayed behind in hopes of weathering the storm, including a 73-year-old woman who was washed out of her home by the sea during a storm surge. The CBC reported that the woman’s body was recovered by the RCMP and Canadian Coast Guard on Sunday.
For those who evacuated, they return to a town unrecognizable from the one they left only a few days prior. Some streets are still littered with debris, over 20 homes were damaged or destroyed and almost 200 people have been displaced.
Some of those 200 people displaced are not yet allowed to go near their homes, or where their homes once stood, because of unsafe conditions.
The Port aux Basques fire department is working hard to clear debris and downed power lines in those areas that are not yet safe for residents to return to.
“At the moment, we’re standing here, we’re waiting for Newfoundland Power to de-energize this area to make it safe. We do not want people wandering around into an area that’s live with downed wires and so on,” Jerry Musseau, Port aux Basques’ fire chief, said in an interview with NTV News.
“You see this kind of stuff on the news in Puerto Rico or down in the south in the Carolinas, [I] never dreamed it could happen in Port aux Basques,” Musseau said as he stood in front of a downed power line and a house sitting in a hole where its foundation used to be.
Prince Edward Island also received devastating blows from hurricane Fiona. One death has been confirmed and 95% of customers were without power as of Sunday night.
CTV Atlantic reported that six roads are “completely closed on P.E.I., as well as many other bridges that remain ‘completely impassable.’”
To make matters worse, the island is experiencing delays in fuel distribution as a result of problems with electricity at Charlottetown’s oil tank farm.
General Wayne Eyre of the Canadian Armed Forces tweeted on Sunday that P.E.I requested support from the CAF to clear vegetation and debris from roadways so the province can restore power. The request was approved.
“We are deploying troops immediately to help with this effort,” Eyre said.
The federal government approved another request from Nova Scotia and will send troops to help restore power and assist in cleaning up the mess left by hurricane Fiona.