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Storm leaves Canadians without power

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | September 26, 2022 at 5:09 a.m.
Fallen trees lay on a house in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. A day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)


TORONTO -- Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials said they found the body of a woman swept into the sea after former Hurricane Fiona washed away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country's Atlantic provinces.

After surging north from the Caribbean, Fiona came ashore before dawn Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone, battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec with hurricane-strength winds, rains and waves.

Defense Minister Anita Anand said troops would help remove fallen trees, restore transportation links and do whatever else is required for as long as it takes.

Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, and one death in Canada. Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland.


Police said the woman was inside her residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a release on social media that with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard and other rescue teams, her body was recovered late Sunday afternoon.

"Living in coastal communities we know what can happen and tragically the sea has taken another from us," said Gudie Hutchings, a member of Parliament from Newfoundland.

As of Sunday evening, more than 211,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 81,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island -- about 95% of the total -- remained in the dark. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers -- in the province of almost 1 million people -- had been affected by outages Saturday.

Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said Sunday that over 200 people were in temporary shelters. Over 70 roads were completely inaccessible in her region. She said she couldn't count the number of homes damaged in her own neighborhood.

She said it was critical for the military to arrive and help clear debris, noting that the road to the airport is inaccessible and the tower has significant damage.

McDougall said it is amazing there are no injuries in her community.

"People listened to the warnings and did what they were supposed to do and this was the result," she said.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said that over 100 military personnel would arrive Sunday to assist in recovery efforts. Schools will be closed today and Tuesday. He said many bridges are destroyed.

"The magnitude and severity of the damage is beyond anything that we've seen in our province's history," King said, and that it would take a "herculean effort by thousands of people" to recover over the coming days and weeks.

Kim Griffin, a spokeswoman for Prince Edward Island's electricity provider, said it would likely take "many days" to restore power across the island.

"The sense on the street is one of shock and awe over the magnitude of the storm," said Sean Casey, a member of Parliament who represents Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. He added that locals are also determined to mount a recovery effort. A long line quickly formed after the first gas station opened in his community on Sunday afternoon.

"Everywhere you go around town you hear generators and chain saws," Casey said.

Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said the federal government would also send approximately 100 military personnel to Newfoundland and Labrador as it shifts to recover from the storm.

Entire structures were washed into the sea as raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.

"This is not a one-day situation where we can all go back to normal," Mayor Brian Button said on social media. "Unfortunately, this is going to take days, it could take weeks, it could take months in some cases."

Much of the town of 4,000 had been evacuated and Button asked for patience as officials identify where and when people can safely go home. He noted that some residents are showing up at barricades angry and wanting to return.

Officials across eastern Canada also were assessing the scope of damage caused by the storm, which had moved inland over southeastern Quebec.

Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax, said the roof of an apartment building collapsed in Nova Scotia's biggest city and officials had moved 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure -- a key sign of storm strength -- ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada.

"We're getting more severe storms more frequently," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said more resilient infrastructure is needed to withstand extreme weather events.

'STARTING FROM SCRATCH'

Puerto Rico's government has said it expects to have a preliminary estimate of the damage Fiona caused in roughly two weeks. As of Sunday, about 45% of Puerto Rico's 1.47 million power customers remained in the dark, and 20% of 1.3 million water customers had no service as workers struggled to reach submerged power substations and fix downed lines.

Power company officials announced Sunday that 1.1 million to 1.3 million clients could have power by Friday, Sept. 30 but warned those estimates could change. They did not say when the entire island would be energized.

"[Fiona] affected our whole infrastructure. We are doing everything we can to fix it," said Lawrence Kazmierski, senior vice president for Luma, the company that took over the island's power transmission and distribution more than a year ago.

Gas stations, grocery stores and other businesses have temporarily shut down due to lack of fuel for generators. The National Guard first dispatched fuel to hospitals and other critical infrastructure.

"We're starting from scratch," said Carmen Rivera as she and her wife mopped up water and threw away their damaged appliances, adding to piles of rotting furniture and soggy mattresses lining their street.

Despite being on the opposite side of the island from where Fiona's eye made landfall, Toa Baja was especially hard hit because the Plata River -- Puerto Rico's longest -- overflowed its banks into the city of more than 74,000 people.

Floodwaters passed the 5-foot mark at Rivera's wood-and-concrete home. She wondered if she might get any financial help, and when.

"I work for the municipality, and what I earn is not, 'wow,'" she said.

Toa Baja officials estimated it could take a month to complete their door-to-door survey aimed at determining damage so that people can get financial aid.

For some, it was more than just about financial loss as people used the chance to describe their stress as well.

"I see an emotional exhaustion in people. It's a 'here we go again,'" said Gretchen Hernandez, a social worker who was overseeing the citywide survey.

Many have been forced to throw out food because of the power outages -- and some people pitched in to help neighbors.

More than two dozen cars lined up in Toa Baja, where Aida Villanueva was handing out food to fellow members of the community -- grapes, croissants, chicken, rice, vegetables and the like.

Seventy-four-year-old Ana Butter arrived before dawn for a chance at food, complaining about a lack of official aid.

"No one has stopped by my house," said Butter, who lives in the neighboring town of Dorado.

Someone in line wondered aloud what those without power were going to do with so much free chicken. Another yelled, "Tomorrow there'll be a barbecue!" and the crowd laughed.

Information for this article was contributed by Rob Gillies, Danica Coto and Stephen Groves of The Associated Press.

  photo  Homeowner George MacDonald, left, describes the moment when several trees landed on his home in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. A day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Downed power poles and trees are seen near homes in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. A day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Workers assess downed power poles caused by post-tropical storm Fiona in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remain without power and officials are trying to assess the scope of devastation from former Hurricane Fiona. It swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Workers assess downed power poles caused by post-tropical storm Fiona in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remain without power and officials are trying to assess the scope of devastation from former Hurricane Fiona. It swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston speaks with homeowner Karen Eckert, of Glace Bay, about the damage to her home in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. A day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, right, gives a briefing on post-tropical storm Fiona and the government response in front of a destroyed structure in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. A day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  This photo provided by Pauline Billard shows destruction caused by Hurricane Fiona in Rose Blanche, 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Pauline Billard via AP)
 
 
  photo  A downed power pole lays across a road as an elderly man assesses the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remain without power and officials are trying to assess the scope of devastation from former Hurricane Fiona. It swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 
  photo  Workers Darren MacKinnon, left, and Derek Facchin cut into a fallen tree in Reserve, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remain without power and officials are trying to assess the scope of devastation from former Hurricane Fiona. It swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces. (Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press via AP)
 
 



 Gallery: Aftermath of Fiona



Print Headline: Storm leaves Canadians without power

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