A strong storm swept Fiona in the east Canada Saturday with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, tearing down trees and power lines, turning many homes on the coast into “just a pile of rubble in the ocean.”
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm’s center, which has been downgraded to Post-Tropical Hurricane Fiona, reached the Gulf of St. Lawrence after racing through Nova Scotia.
The commission said the storm hit Newfoundland and eastern Quebec, after taking its toll on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but is now likely to weaken.
Port-au-Basque, a city on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland with a population of 4,067, has declared a state of emergency and evacuated parts of the city that have suffered from flooding and road erosion, according to Mayor Brian Patton.
Renee Roy, editor-in-chief of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques, told Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“This is the most terrifying thing I have ever seen in my life,” Roy said, describing several homes as “just a pile of rubble in the ocean right now.”
He added, “There is an apartment building that is already finished. Entire streets have disappeared.”
CBC reported that police are investigating whether a woman was washed out to sea.
“We had a very difficult morning,” Button said in a Facebook video, adding that evacuations had been completed. “We will get through this. I promise we will get through it.”
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, held a meeting on Saturday morning with members of the government’s emergency response team. “Our government stands ready to support counties with additional resources,” Trudeau said in a tweet.
Fiona, which hit Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean nearly a week ago, killed at least eight people and caused nearly all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents to lose power during a severe heat wave.
Fiona made landfall between Canso and Gisboro, Nova Scotia, where the Canadian Hurricane Center said it recorded the lowest barometric pressure of any landfall storm in the country’s history.
Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center, told Reuters it appeared Fiona had lived up to expectations that it would be a “historic” storm. “She seems to have the potential to break the all-time record in Canada, and she appears to have done so,” he said. “We still haven’t gotten out of this yet.”
Storms are not uncommon in the area and usually pass quickly, but Fiona is expected to affect a very large area.
While scientists have not yet determined whether climate change has affected Fiona’s strength or behaviour, there is strong evidence that these devastating storms are getting worse.
Utility companies said about 69% of customers in Nova Scotia, or 360,000, were without power, and 95%, or more than 82,000, lost electricity on Prince Edward Island. Police across the area reported multiple road closures. The area was also experiencing intermittent mobile phone service.
Mobile and Wi-Fi services company Rogers Communications said it was aware of the outage caused by Fiona, and crews would work to restore service “as soon as possible.”
Hubbard said PEI produces more than a fifth of Canadian potatoes and that the island’s potato farms, which are in harvest season, are likely to be damaged by the storm.
“This morning we all woke up to some very scary scenes, swept roads, uprooted trees, mailboxes you’re not supposed to be in,” Darlene Compton, deputy prime minister of Prince Edward Island, told reporters, saying it was a “nervous” night.
In Halifax, 11 boats sank at the Sherwater Yacht Club and four were grounded, said Eileen Keane, who has a boat at the club that escaped damage.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said no injuries or deaths had been reported so far, and officials from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said the same.
The storm weakened somewhat as it moved north. By 2 p.m. in Halifax (6 p.m. GMT), it was over the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 105 miles west of Port-au-Pasques, carrying maximum winds of 75 mph and heading north at about 25 mph.
Trudeau has postponed his scheduled departure on Saturday to Japan to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
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