Enterprise

Fiona washes houses and cuts power in Canada – Sentinel and Enterprise

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Fiona washed homes into the sea, ripped roofs off others and knocked out power across the vast majority of Canada’s two provinces on Saturday as it made landfall as a big and powerful post-tropical cyclone.

Fiona transformed from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm Friday night, but still had hurricane-force winds and brought torrential rains and huge waves. There was no immediate confirmation of dead or injured.

Ocean waves hit the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the south coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were swept into the sea. Mayor Brian Button said on social media on Saturday that people were blown to higher ground as winds toppled power lines.

“We’ve had houses before… that have been washed away,” he said.

Button said anyone who was told to leave their home had to leave.

“I see houses in the ocean. I see rubble floating everywhere. It is complete and total destruction. There’s an apartment that’s gone that’s literally just rubble,” Channel-Port Aux Basques resident and Wreckhouse Press editor Rene J. Roy said in a phone interview.

Roy estimated that between 8 and 12 houses and buildings were washed out to sea.

“It’s quite terrifying. I see coastal erosion. I see a house hanging in mid-air,” Roy said.

Jolene Garland, spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador, said a woman was safe after she was ‘thrown into the water as her house collapsed’ in the area of Channel-Port Aux Basques. She said authorities received a report of another individual being washed out to sea, but conditions were too dangerous to confirm or respond to immediately.

Garland described extreme weather conditions along the southwest coast of Newfoundland including “high winds, high waves, flooding and electrical fires.” Several structures were destroyed by the high seas, she said

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the town of 4,000 is in a state of emergency as authorities deal with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% of the province’s nearly one million — were affected by outages Saturday morning. More than 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island, nearly the entire province, were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without power.

The fast-moving Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn on Saturday with reduced power from the Category 4 strength it had early Friday when passing through Bermuda, although authorities reported no serious damage.

The Canadian Hurricane Center tweeted early Saturday that Fiona had the lowest pressure on record for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.

A local state of emergency was also declared by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s mayor and council amid widespread power outages, road closures and damage to homes.

“There are houses that have been significantly damaged due to downed trees, large old trees falling and causing significant damage. We also see houses whose roofs have been completely torn off, windows smashed. There is a tremendous amount of debris on the roads,” Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told The Associated Press.

“There is a lot of damage to property and structures, but no injuries at this stage. Again, we’re still in the middle of that,” she said. “It’s always terrifying. I’m just sitting here in my living room and I feel like the patio doors are going to break in with these big gusts.

McDougall said the shelter they had opened was full overnight and they would look to open more.

The Federal Department of Public Safety has advised against all non-essential travel by car.

A hurricane watch has been issued for the coastal stretches of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to delay his trip to Japan for the funeral of slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We sure hope there won’t be much to do, but we think there probably will be,” Trudeau said. “Listen to instructions from local authorities and hang in there for the next 24 hours.”

The US Hurricane Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph) on Saturday. It crossed the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hurricane-force winds extended out to 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended out to 405 miles (650 kilometers).

Hurricanes in Canada are quite rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. But post-tropical cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds, although they have a cold core and no visible eyes. They also often lose their symmetrical shape and look more like a comma.

“Just an incredibly strong storm as it made landfall. And even though it is moving away, it continues to affect the area for several hours today,” Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Ian Hubbard said Saturday morning. in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Hubbard said he lost power at home and had to travel a long way to work because the bridges were closed. He said there were downed trees and signs in the Halifax area.

In Sydney, N.S., the largest city in Cape Breton, about 20 people have taken shelter at the Center 200 sports and entertainment center, said Christina Lamey, spokeswoman for the region.

Arlene and Robert Grafilo fled to Center 200 with their children after a massive tree fell on their duplex apartment.

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

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

Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Center, said Fiona is shaping up to be a bigger storm system than Hurricane Juan, which caused extensive damage in the Halifax area in 2003. .

He added that Fiona was about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019. “But it’s stronger than Dorian was,” he said.

Nova Scotia authorities also sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to say inside, avoid the shore, charge devices and have enough supplies. for at least 72 hours.

So far, Fiona has been charged with at least five deaths – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said New Tropical Storm Ian in the Caribbean is expected to continue to strengthen and hit Cuba early Tuesday like a hurricane and then hit southern Florida early Wednesday.

It was centered about 270 miles (435 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) and was moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 km/h). A hurricane watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands.

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Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto and Morgan Lee in Ventura, Calif., contributed to this report.