Devastating storm Fiona threw nearly half a million Canadians into darkness, uprooted trees, swept away roads and destroyed the pretty Newfoundland town of Port Aux Basques after it slammed into eastern part of the country on Saturday.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, as it is now called after being downgraded by the National Hurricane Center, punished the coastal towns of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island New Brunswick and Newfoundland with winds of more than 80mph, which knocked out power to 470,000 households.
‘We’re seeing devastating images come out of Port aux Basques,’ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the press. ‘PEI (Prince Edward Island) has experienced storm damage like they’ve never seen. Cape Breton is being hit hard, too, as is Quebec.’
As many as 20 homes are believed to be destroyed, like this one, caused by the storm surge by Post-Tropical Storm Fiona
Port Aux Basques, the southernmost tip of Newfoundland, was devastated by the storm
The banner for A&W restaurant was torn from its place during the high winds, estimated to top 80 mph
Post-Tropical Storm Fiona knocked out power to nearly half a million Canadians as it swept through Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau canceled a trip to Japan to oversee the recovery effort
The weather front will continue to push across Newfoundland and Labrador toward Greenland where it’s forecast to peter out by Monday.
But that’s too late for the town of Port Aux Basques on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland.
‘What’s actually happening here is total devastation,’ Mayor Brian Button told the CBC. ‘This has become bigger, and worse than we had imagined.’
Six-foot storm surges crushed homes and carried them out to sea before the tide shifted, leaving a debris and ruin in its wake.
The mayor said that he ordered an evacuation of all homes on the coast.
‘I’m telling you, it is a mess out there,’ he told the news outlet.
One woman was nearly carried out to sea after her coastal home collapsed in the swell, according to Jolene Garland, spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
There was a report of a second woman who may not have been so lucky, but police were unable to get to her home because conditions were too dangerous.
Neighbors were able to grab her and pull her to safety. She suffered minor injuries and was treated at the local hospital, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Garland described extreme weather conditions along the southwest coast of Newfoundland that included ‘high winds, high waves, flooding and electrical fires.’ Multiple structures have been destroyed by high seas, she said
The Royal Canadian Police said the town of 4,000 is in a state of emergency as authorities deal with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.
‘I´m seeing homes in the ocean. I’m seeing rubble floating all over the place. It’s complete and utter destruction. There’s an apartment that is gone, that is literally just rubble,’ said René J. Roy, a resident of Channel-Port Aux Basques and chief editor at Wreckhouse Press, said in a phone interview.
Roy estimated between eight to 12 houses and buildings have washed into the sea. ‘It’s quite terrifying,’ he said.
Further inland in Burgeo-La Polie, the local assemblyman said that the destruction came quickly.
‘Over 20 homes damaged or destroyed,’ Andrew Parsons, a member of the House of Assembly, told the CBC. ‘Again, some of these are extremely close friends, people I’ve known my entire life. Just a flick, just seconds, they lose something that they’ve worked at.’
Hundreds are believed to be displaced by the storm surge, which knocked out roads making relief efforts more frustrating.
Nova Scotia Power CEO Peter Gregg told NBC News that it would take at least three days to restore power.
Michael King, special advisor to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, and his family, posted a photo that shows damaged caused by post-tropical storm Fiona on the Burnt Islands
Some sort of structure appears to have floated away due to the effects of the post-tropical storm
Fallen trees lean against a house in Sydney as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the Maritimes on Saturday
Powerful storm Fiona slammed into eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds, nearly a week after devastating parts of the Caribbean as hundreds of thousands are without power, including some in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island
The storm had weakened somewhat as it travelled north. As of 5 a.m., the storm was about 160 miles northeast of Halifax, carrying maximum winds of 90 miles per hour and barreling north at around 26 mph, the NHC said.
Hurricane-force winds extended up to 175 miles out from Fiona’s center while tropical-storm-force winds reached up to 405 miles out as of 8 a.m. ET, according to the NHC.
The Canadian Hurricane Center called the storm ‘the lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada.’ Lower pressure systems cause more intense storms, providing lift and moisture in the atmosphere to fuel showers and thunderstorms.
The 931.6 mb measurement would be not only a Canadian record but the lowest pressure ever observed in either Canada or the US for any storm north of the Gulf Coast, according to Yale Climate Connections.
The pressure is similar to what is usually expected with a Category 4 hurricane but it’s only a tropical storm because of the wide differential in pressure across the storm.
Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. But post-tropical cyclones still can have hurricane-strength winds, although they have a cold core and no visible eye. They also often lose their symmetric form and more resemble a comma.
Wind and rain from Post-Tropical Storm Fiona hit the shoreline of Bras d’Or Lake in Irish Cove, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island
Experts predicted high winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall from Fiona. Although a gradual weakening was forecast during the next couple of days, Fiona was expected to maintain hurricane-force winds until Saturday afternoon, the NHC said. Trees were down on this part of Atlantic Canada
A house sees part of its ceiling cave in as part of what the Canadian Hurricane Center called the storm ‘the lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada’
According to Nova Scotia Power, over 420,000 people in the province of about 970,000 were without power as of 8 a.m. eastern time. Power lines were down in Charlottetown on nearby PEI
People look at fallen trees behind houses in Charlottetown as post-tropical storm Fiona, one of the strongest storms to ever strike Eastern Canada
Youth hostel Paradis Bleu is surrounded by high water caused by post-tropical storm Fiona is shown on the Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec
Pedestrians survey the damage in Sydney, N.S. as Post-Tropical Storm Fiona continues to batter the Maritimes
A resident takes photographs of flooding following the passing of Hurricane Fiona, later downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, in Shediac, New Brunswick
Downed power lines from winds from Post-Tropical Storm Fiona rest against a home on September 24 in Sydney, Nova Scotia
A fallen power pole blocks a street and take down power lines in Sydney, Nova Scotia
A sailboat lies washed up on shore following the passing of Hurricane Fiona, later downgraded to a post-tropical storm, in Shearwater, Nova Scotia
A car drives through water along the Canso Causeway as wind and rain from Post-Tropical Storm Fiona hit the region on September 24, 2022 in Port Hastings
In Sydney, Nova Scotia, the largest city in Cape Breton, about 20 people have taken refuge at the Centre 200 sports and entertainment facility, said Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the region. Lemay said there are hundreds of people displaced in the province.
Arlene and Robert Grafilo fled to Centre 200 with their children, aged three and 10, after a massive tree fell on their duplex apartment.
‘We were trapped and we couldn’t open the doors and the windows, so that’s when we decided to call 911,’ said Arlene Grafilo, adding firefighters eventually rescued them.
Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair noted police are investigating the report of an individual missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques but there is no confirmation of any dead or injured.
‘The damage is very extensive. We’ve seen homes, community centers, apartment buildings, roadways, bridges have all been impacted,’ Blair said. He also said there is very extensive damage at the airport in Sydney, Nova Scotia and at other airports including Halifax but it is more minor damage at Nova’s Scotia’s largest airport.
Workers clear fallen trees and downed wires from damage caused by post tropical storm Fiona in the Nova Scotia capital of Halifax
A fallen tree blocks a car as post tropical storm Fiona causes widespread damage in Halifax on Saturday
Workers clear fallen trees and downed wires from damage caused by post tropical storm Fiona in Halifax on Saturday. Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country’s history
A worker clears fallen trees and downed wires from damage caused by post tropical storm Fiona, which has downed tons of trees and even washed out houses
Vehicles pass under a fallen tree in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on Saturday as residents reeled from the post-Hurricane conditions brought on by Fiona
Fallen trees behind houses are shown in Charlottetown as post-tropical storm Fiona, one of the strongest storms to ever strike Eastern Canada
Blair told The Associated Press he expects the Canadian Armed Forces to help in the recovery including possibly moving people around, assisting with shelters and providing help with the removal of debris in addition to rescue operations should it be needed.
‘They are moving now,’ Blair said.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the roof of an apartment building collapsed and they moved 100 people to a evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt or killed. Officials said there are other apartment buildings that are also significantly damaged. Halifax has about 160 people displaced from two apartments, officials said.
Trudeau delayed Saturday’s departure for Japan, where he was to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to receive briefings and support the government’s emergency response, Press Secretary Cecely Roy said on Twitter.
The National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm, now called Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was crossing eastern Nova Scotia, bringing high winds and heavy rains
The storm had weakened somewhat as it travelled north. As of 5 a.m., the storm was about 160 miles northeast of Halifax, carrying maximum winds of 90 miles per hour and barreling north at around 26 mph, the NHC said
In the provincial capital of Halifax, a tree fell on a fire truck that had a crew inside with live wires, according to CBC. A local fire chief said it was ‘not safe to be on the roads.’
Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government weather source, said the highest wind gusts hit 179 kilometers per hour, or about 111 mph.
Formerly designated a hurricane, the storm battered Caribbean islands earlier in the week, killing at least eight people and knocking out power for virtually all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people during a sweltering heat wave. Nearly a million people remained without power five days later.
A hurricane warning was in effect for much of central Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, home to more than 150,000 people, and parts of Newfoundland, the Miami-based NHC said.
Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Ian Hubbard said on Friday the effects of Fiona would be felt over a wide area.
In the provincial capital of Halifax, a tree fell on a fire truck that had a crew inside with live wires
Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government weather source, said the highest wind gusts hit 179 kilometers per hour, or about 111 mph
Formerly designated a hurricane, the storm battered Caribbean islands earlier in the week, killing at least eight people and knocking out power for virtually all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people during a sweltering heat wave. Vehicles pass under a fallen tree in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
A hurricane warning was in effect for much of central Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, home to more than 150,000 people, and parts of Newfoundland, the Miami-based NHC said as waves pound the shores of Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia
A Canadian flag waves in the high winds in Dartmouth, N.S. on Saturday. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday
‘The center of it is one thing, but the weather that’s associated with it in terms of the rain and where all the strong winds are, it’s going to be over a much larger area,’ he said.
‘Many, many places away from the center of the storm are still going to be seriously impacted from this,’ Hubbard told Reuters.
There will be rough and pounding surf, with waves as high as 33 feet expected to hit the eastern shore of Nova Scotia Friday night.
Canadian authorities sent emergency alerts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, warning of severe flooding along shorelines and extremely dangerous waves. People in coastal areas were advised to evacuate.
‘We’ve had a few before, but they say this is going to be the biggest of them all,’ said Chris MacPhee, 53, of Sydney, Nova Scotia, who stocked up on groceries, batteries and candles. He said he was feeling ‘a little nervous, I guess.’
Ian Livingstone surveys the damage to his house from a fallen tree early in the morning in Halifax on Saturday
Canadian authorities sent emergency alerts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, warning of severe flooding along shorelines and extremely dangerous waves. People in coastal areas were advised to evacuate
The storm could prove more ferocious than the benchmarks of Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud told a briefing.
The country’s two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines, suspended regional service starting Friday evening.
Canadians stocked up on food and barricaded their homes in preparation for the relentless rain and flooding.
‘All the ingredients are really there for some high water levels, flooding and potential damage,’ said meteorologist Rob Carroll, who added the storm surges will likely be the most damaging part of the storm.
Chris Fogarty, manager of the Canadian Hurricane Center, told CNN Fiona has the potential to be ‘a landmark event for Canada in terms of intensity of a tropical cyclone.’
The storm could prove more ferocious than the benchmarks of Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud told a briefing
The country’s two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines, suspended regional service starting Friday evening
Pedestrians survey the damage in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday
Georgina Scott surveys the damage on her street in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday
Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone
Extensive power outages may occur in Nova Scotia from the storm as they already have in Puerto Rico, and John Lohr of the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia said.
‘Impacts are projected to be felt across the province. Every Nova Scotian should be preparing today,’ he added.
Utility company Nova Scotia Power created an Emergency Operations Center, which will act as a base of operations for the company to work on restoring power as quickly as possible.
Canadians have been sharing ways to prepare for the effects of the storm including keeping ice in the house to keep food cold in case of a power outage and having extra batteries on hand.
‘Every Nova Scotian should be preparing today,’ John Lohr of the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia said
Pedestrians in Halifax are already feeling the rain on Friday as the eastern coast of Canada is expected to see upwards of 7 inches of rain
A sign in the window of a storefront on the Halifax waterfront is seen ahead of Hurricane Fiona as the storm closes in to make landfall on Saturday
‘All that momentum is trapped within the storm, so it’s very difficult for something like that to actually wind down,’ Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud said.
‘It’s a major hurricane, and it’s only 900 kilometers away from us, and it’s getting bigger,’ he added.
‘We have been through these types of events before, but my fear is, not to this extent,’ Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality said.
Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy.
The storm has so far killed five people – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.
Fiona then made its way to Bermuda where residents were seen boarding up windows and taking shelter before the hurricane’s arrival.
Fiona hit the island on Thursday as a Category 4 storm, but despite being downgraded, the hurricane continues to threaten the Caribbean islands as it heads to Canada.
A satellite image shows how badly homes were flooded on Salinas Beach in Puerto Rico following the storm
A man collects donated water bottles for drinking after Hurricane Fiona damaged water supplies in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, leading President Joe Biden to say Thursday that the full force of the federal government is ready to help the United States territory recover.
Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, ‘We’re all in this together.’
The president noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused an island-wide blackout.
As of Thursday, more than one million homes and businesses were still without power, and more than 450,000 people remained without water service.
Fortunately, the pace to restore power to homes is faster than efforts performed after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 when all 1.5 million homes were without power for a week.
Residents are seen here working to recover belongings from flooding caused by Hurricane Fiona in the Los Sotos neighborhood of Higuey, Dominican Republic on Tuesday
Members of the Puerto Rico National Guard distribute water in an affected community in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Ponce, Puerto Rico
Meteorologists expect a tropical wave, which began to form Wednesday, ‘is the most significant threat for the US mainland we’ve had this hurricane season.’ A member of the Puerto Rico National Guard is seen wading through the flooded streets
The now-bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority took 11 months to restore power to all customers. LUMA Energy, which now presides over the island’s power, said ‘full restoration could take several days.’
In the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, more than a million people are without running water while just under 350,000 homes and businesses were without power as of Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. Juan Méndez García, director of the DR’s emergency operations center, told CNN that more than 600 homes had been destroyed while some communities are without access to aid.
President Biden announced Wednesday the approval of a major disaster declaration for the territory which will allow Puerto Ricans access to grants for temporary housing and home repairs in addition to low-interest loans to cover property losses.
‘This ensures that our people will have access to additional help from FEMA to recover from the damage caused by this event,’ Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi tweeted.
Complementing the president’s efforts, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has deployed staff from city agencies to help Puerto Rican officials survey the damage.
Trailing Fiona in the Caribbean is Tropical storm Ian, which is expected to become a hurricane on Sunday night. The NHC said that a hurricane watch is in effect for Cayman Islands.
The storms Ian’s projected path takes it just south of Jamaica, over western Cuba and into Florida early next week, the hurricane centre said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Friday, freeing up funding and emergency services in advance of the storm.