Storm Fiona hits Canada’s east coast, causes ‘terrifying’ destruction

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Strong Storm Fiona hit eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, knocking down trees and power lines and reducing many homes along the coast to “just a pile of debris in the ocean.”

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the center of the storm, downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was now in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and losing some steam. The NHC has canceled hurricane and tropical storm warnings for the region.

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Port aux Basques, on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland, with a population of 4,067, was impacted by the fury of the storm.

The mayor was forced to declare a state of emergency and evacuated parts of the city that had suffered from flooding and collapsed roads.

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Several houses and an apartment building were washed out to sea, Rene Roy, editor-in-chief of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques, told Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“This is by far the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Roy said, describing many houses as “just a pile of rubble in the ocean right now.”

“There is an apartment building that has literally disappeared. There are entire streets that have disappeared,” she added. Police are investigating whether a woman was dragged overboard, the CBC reported.

“We’ve had a very rough morning,” Button said in a Facebook video, adding that the evacuations had been completed. “We will get through this. I promise you that we will get through this.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Saturday morning with members of a government emergency response team and then told reporters that the military would be mobilized to help with the cleanup.

“We are seeing reports of significant damage in the region and recovery will be a major effort,” Trudeau said. “We will be there to support you every step of the way.”

Trudeau postponed his planned departure on Saturday for Japan to attend the funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, but said he would now no longer make the trip. Instead, he said he would visit the storm-damaged region as soon as possible.

Federal assistance has already been approved for Nova Scotia, Trudeau said, and more applications are expected.

Fiona, who hit Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean nearly a week ago, killed at least eight and shut down virtually all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents during a sweltering heat wave.

Fiona made landfall between Canso and Guysborough, Nova Scotia, where the Canadian Hurricane Center said it recorded what may have been the lowest barometric pressure of any storm to make landfall in the country’s history.

Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre, told Reuters it looks like Fiona has lived up to expectations that it would be a “historic” storm.

“It looked like it had the potential to break the all-time record in Canada, and it looks like it did,” he said. “We’re not out of it yet.”

Storms are not uncommon in the region and typically cross quickly, but Fiona is expected to affect a very large area.

While scientists have yet to determine whether climate change has influenced Fiona’s strength or behavior, there is strong evidence that these devastating storms are getting worse.

Hundreds of thousands without power

About 69% of customers, or 360,720, were without power in Nova Scotia, and 95%, or more than 82,000, lost power on Prince Edward Island, utility companies said. Police across the region reported multiple road closures. The region was also experiencing patchy mobile phone service.

Mobile and Wi-Fi provider Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) said it was aware of the disruptions caused by Fiona and that teams would work to restore service “as soon as possible”.

PEI produces more than a fifth of Canada’s potatoes and the island’s potato farms, which are in harvest season, are likely to be affected by the storm, Hubbard said.

“This morning we all woke up to some very scary scenes, roads down, trees uprooted, mailboxes where they shouldn’t be,” Darlene Compton, deputy prime minister of the PEI, told reporters, saying it was a “terrifying” night.

In Halifax, 11 boats sank at the Shearwater Yacht Club and four were stranded, said Elaine Keene, who has a boat at the club that escaped damage.

Quebec Prime Minister François Legault said no injuries or deaths had been reported so far, and officials from PEI and Nova Scotia said the same.

The storm weakened a bit as it traveled north. At 17:00 in Halifax (2100 GMT), it was over the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 130 km northwest of Port aux Basques, carrying maximum sustained winds of 110 km/h, the NHC said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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