After wreaking havoc across the Caribbean as a Hurricane, Fiona now downgraded to a post tropical storm, has proceeded to batter the east coast of Canada, bringing down power lines and washing houses out to sea. At least one person is missing, and the military has been deployed.
Rare weather for Canada
Weather events of this magnitude are rare on Canadian soil, indeed a police spokesperson said the storm was “like nothing ever seen before” in their location. Parts of five provinces in the Atlantic region experienced torrential rain and winds of up to 160km/h (99mph), with widespread flooding and hundreds of thousands of people left without power. The areas affected were Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, together with parts of Quebec.
Streets washed away
On the south-west tip of Newfoundland, in Port aux Basques, which has a population of just over 4,000, intense flooding saw some homes and buildings washed out to sea. Entire streets have disappeared, with officials confirming that at least 20 homes had been lost to the ocean. The area is under a state of emergency and local residents describe it as the most terrifying thing ever witnessed, with everyone now evacuated to higher ground.
One person missing after being swept away
One woman was dramatically rescued after being tossed into the water, but another remains missing after reports say she was swept out from her basement and conditions made it too dangerous to conduct a proper search, so the hope is she may have found safety somewhere, but realistically the fear is she would be unlikely to have survived.
Military called in to help
Canada’s Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, told The Associated Press he expects the Canadian Armed Forces to help in any rescue operations in addition to assisting in the recovery, including possibly moving people around, aiding with shelters and providing help with the removal of the tons of debris left behind. He said: “The damage is very extensive. We have seen homes, community centres, apartment buildings, roadways, and bridges all badly impacted.”
Power out for days
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were affected by outages and it is likely to take several days for power to be restored and multiple electrical fires are compounding the problems. Hurricanes and storms of this severity in Canada are rare, as storms normally lose their energy once they hit colder waters in the north and become post-tropical instead.
Still deadly despite downgrade
Despite being downgraded, Fiona still had hurricane-strength winds, bringing with it torrential rainfall and huge waves to batter the coastline. They retain a cold core but no visible eye. They often lose their symmetric form which has the effect of giving them an appearance resembling a comma.
Prime Minister cancels Japan visit
In a press conference on Saturday evening 24 September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation about the government’s response and pledged all the help required, which included matching all Red Cross and corporation donations made over the next 30 days, for communities hardest hit.
He said: “I know Canadians across the country as always will want to help.” He had postponed a visit to Japan where he was to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, preferring to stay and deal with the crisis. He added that the government were standing ready to support provinces with any necessary resources.
Already caused devastation and loss of life
Hurricane Fiona had already been linked to at least 16 deaths in Puerto Rico, plus others in the Dominican Republic and the French island of Guadeloupe.
Mick the Ram