Fiona wreaks havoc in the Atlantic region and destroys houses in the Netherlands

SYDNEY, N.S. –

Cities in Cape Breton and on Newfoundland’s southern coast declared states of emergency Saturday as Post-Tropical Storm Fiona, one of the strongest storms ever to hit eastern Canada, continued to pummel the region.

Rene Roy, editor of the weekly in Port aux Basques, NL, said he saw evidence that nine houses, including a two-story apartment building, were swept out to sea by a massive storm surge and wind-driven waves that rose around 25 meters in the air.

“Lower Water Street is devastated by the damage,” Roy said. “There are houses missing. There are houses on the street… The RCMP is actively investigating if people have been swept away.”

Brian Button, the mayor of Port aux Basques, asked residents not to wander and urged those at risk to seek higher ground.

“So anyone who is told to leave their homes needs to leave,” Button said Saturday during a Facebook Live broadcast. “There is no if, me but, you have to go.” He warned that if they didn’t go, they might find themselves isolated.

“A house can be replaced, but you can’t, so you have to go and ΓǪ we’ve already had houses and things that have been washed away, so we need you to go now,” Button said.

Fiona was producing hurricane-force winds of about 150 kilometers per hour when it made landfall around 4 a.m. in eastern Nova Scotia between Canso and Guysborough. The severe storm has left more than 500,000 homes and businesses in the Maritimes without power.

The Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, NS, said Fiona set an unofficial record for the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded for a tropical storm to make landfall in Canada. The pressure recorded at Hart Island was 931.6 millibars.

“The pressure of a storm is a very good indicator of its intensity: how strong and intense the winds will be,” said meteorologist Ian Hubbard. “The deeper the pressure, the more intense it will be.”

Halifax Stanfield International Airport reported a gust of 109 km/h at 3 am and a gust of 135 km/h at the Halifax Harbor mouth. In addition, a gust reached 100 mph over Beaver Island, NS, which is along the east coast of the province. In Sydney, NS, gusts reached 141 km/h at 3 am local time and caused severe damage to some homes.

“We’ve had a number of structural failures,” said Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, adding that no one was injured. She said it was not clear how many houses had been damaged, but there were reports of collapsed walls and missing roofs.

“The first responders are really under pressure right now. We want people to stay off the roads,” he said. “Most of the roads have hazards, with downed power lines and downed trees as well.”

Several dozen people in Sydney have been forced to move into a shelter set up inside a downtown hockey arena.

Arlene and Robert Grafilo fled to the 200 Center with their children after a huge tree fell on their duplex apartment, trapping them in their basement.

“We heard a lot of noise outside and then we realized there were a lot of cracks in the house and we looked outside and saw that the tree had fallen,” said Arlene Grafilo, 43, as her children, aged 3 and 10, – It is played in a waiting room set up by the Red Cross.

“We were trapped and couldn’t open the doors and windows, so we decided to call 911. The children were scared,” he said, adding that firefighters eventually rescued them.

As of 11 am local time, Nova Scotia Power reported that 406,000 customers were in the dark, nearly 80 percent of the homes and businesses it serves.

In PEI, Maritime Electric reported that 82,000 of its 86,000 customers were without power, and NB Power reported that 54,000 New Brunswick customers were without power, most of them in and around Moncton, Shediac, and Sackville.

The people of Charlottetown woke up to howling winds, broken limbs and downed power lines Saturday morning after a night in which sheets of rain engulfed the city.

“From tonight through possibly Sunday, please stay indoors unless absolutely necessary,” the city said in a statement. “Stay off the roads and expect continued power outages.”

At the Charlottetown airport, the wind was gusting to 120 km/h at 10 am local time, with a gust of 150 km/h recorded at the eastern end of the island at East Point.

Steve Clements, who spent the night at Jack Blanchard Hall, one of Charlottetown’s temporary shelters, said he was thankful to be “out of the elements.” He said most of the other shelters are open around 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is inconvenient during a big storm.

“It’s temporary. It’s also very noisy. And it’s not easy to sleep,” he said with a smile, gesturing around the room. “But…it’s better than the alternative. It’s better than being outside.”

Meanwhile, parts of eastern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have seen 75 to 150 millimeters of rain. Final totals have yet to be tallied.

Off the coast of Cow Bay, NS, southeast of Halifax, Caralee McDaniel said the nearby Atlantic Ocean was “just wild.”

“We’re watching the wild waves break,” she said in an interview from her friend’s house, which lost power around 11:30 p.m.

“We have candles and several fully charged appliances… We have buckets of water and some boiled water in a thermos to make coffee,” he said.

“(Last night), you could see the windows bending… There were a lot of winds that creaked and howled… At times, we wondered if the wind was going to blow the windows down.”

Storm surge warnings remain in effect for most of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, southwestern Newfoundland, eastern Nova Scotia and the eastern coast of New Brunswick, with waves possibly exceeding 40 feet in the eastern portions of the Gulf of San Lorenzo and Cabot Strait.

Coastal flooding remains a threat to parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island including the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence region including the Madeleine Islands and eastern New Brunswick, southwestern Newfoundland , the Saint Lawrence Estuary and Quebec. Lower North Coast.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings remain in effect for most areas.

The hurricane center said conditions will improve in western Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick later in the day, but will persist elsewhere.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 24, 2022.


— With archives from Michael MacDonald in Halifax, Hina Alam in Charlottetown and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal

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