Fiona batters Atlantic Canada: Officials assess full extent of damage

Fiona — which wreaked havoc in the Caribbean as a hurricane before moving up the Atlantic and making landfall again as a post-tropical cyclone — ripped a path of destruction before weakening and moving out to sea Sunday.

Now, officials are beginning to account for the damage brought forth to the region.

Nova Scotia, where Fiona first made landfall during the early morning hours Saturday, was hit hard by the storm. Powerful winds toppled “an incredible amount” of trees and power lines, washed out roads, littered neighborhoods with debris, and in many cases, snapped whole power poles in half, Premier Tim Houston said.

“It will take time for Nova Scotia to recover,” he said, reporting “devastating” damage.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that the government approved Nova Scotia’s request for federal assistance and that Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to help out in the region. The Prime Minister said residents lived through a “terrifying” 12 hours Saturday.

“People have seen their homes washed away, seen the winds rip schools’ roofs off,” Trudeau said. “And as Canadians, as we always do in times of difficulty, we will be there for each other.”

Several provinces were impacted by the heavy winds and rain. More than 370,000 customers were still without power early Sunday across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, according to Poweroutage.com.

Nearly three quarters of Nova Scotia lost electricity as Fiona pushed through, Houston said Saturday. Peak wind gusts of 171 km/h (106 mph) were recorded in the province’s town of Arisaig Saturday. Meanwhile, Wreckhouse in Newfoundland saw 170 km/h (105 mph) gusts.

Poor weather conditions have hampered power restoration efforts, Nova Scotia Power President and CEO Peter Gregg said Saturday. More than 900 power technicians were on their way to the area, but some customers may experience power outages for several days, he said.

In Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown, police shared images of downed power lines over buildings, fallen trees blocking roadways and piercing through structures.

The region’s utility, Maritime Electric, said it was concerned about people out walking and driving on streets where there is widespread damage from downed power lines and possible live wires.

‘Total war zone’

In Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, strong winds uprooted trees and downed power lines, sending sparks flying and lights flickering off.

A Halifax apartment complex’s roof collapsed, forcing about 100 people to leave for a shelter, Mayor Mike Savage told CNN Saturday.

“The magnitude of this storm has been breathtaking,” Savage later said at a Saturday news conference. “It turned out to be everything predicted.”

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In Newfoundland, video showed buildings floating in water and submerged cars under heavy rains. A woman was rescued from the water after her house collapsed, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She was taken to a hospital; the extent of her injuries wasn’t immediately known, police said.

In Port aux Basques, first responders were dealing with multiple electrical fires, residential flooding and washouts.

“We’ve got a total war zone here, we’ve got destruction everywhere,” Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said in a video update, warning that more storm surges are expected.

Port aux Basques is now under a boil water order, and power was still out for many residents. Concrete barriers were also set up around areas that were rendered “danger zones” by the storm, the mayor said.

The Port aux Basques tide gauge recorded a maximum total water level of 2.73 meters — topping its previous record of 2.71 meters set in 2017, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Workers clear fallen trees and downed wires from damage caused by post tropical storm Fiona in Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

Osborne Head in Nova Scotia received 192 mm (7.55 inches) of rain and Crowe Brook in New Brunswick got 107 mm (4.2 inches), among other heavy rainfall amounts across the provinces.

Now, after lashing the Canadian coast, Fiona is expected to continue to impact Atlantic Canada through early Sunday, creating large swells and life-threatening rip currents along the Atlantic coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Bermuda and the US Northeast states are also due to be affected.

Because of Fiona’s rainfall, more flooding may be produced Sunday and officials are urging caution despite skies beginning to clear in some areas.

CNN’s Derek Van Dam, Tina Burnside, Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris, Hannah Sarisohn and Andy Rose contributed to this report.

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