Storm Fiona batters Canada’s east coast, forcing evacuations

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Powerful storm Fiona slammed into eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded the storm’s center to post-tropical storm Fiona, now in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after racing through Nova Scotia.

After taking its toll on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the storm hit Newfoundland but is now likely to weaken, the NHC said.

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Port aux Basques, on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland, has declared a state of emergency and is evacuating parts of the town affected by flooding and road washouts, according to Mayor Brian Button and police.

“First responders are dealing with multiple electrical fires, residential flooding and washouts. Residents are asked to obey evacuation orders and find a safe place to weather the storm,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland said on Twitter.

“It’s hitting us really hard right now,” Button said in a video posted to Facebook Saturday morning, in which he urged residents to stay indoors or evacuate if asked. “We have some destruction in the city…we don’t want anyone else to get hurt or hurt during this.”

Homes along the coast were destroyed by the storm surge, the CBC report showed, showing images of debris and extensive damage in the city.

Fiona, which hit Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean nearly a week ago, made landfall between Cancho and Guysborough, Nova Scotia, where the Canadian Hurricane Center said it recorded the lowest pressure of any storm to make landfall. History of the country.

Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Ian Hubbard told Reuters Fiona appeared to live up to expectations that it would be a “historic” storm.

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

Storms are not uncommon in the region and usually pass quickly, but Fiona is expected to affect a much larger area.

Hubbard said Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will continue to experience several hours of strong winds, rain and storm surge, and Newfoundland’s west coast will be battered throughout the day.

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

Hundreds of thousands without power

Utility companies said 79% of customers, or 414,000 people, were without power in Nova Scotia, and 95%, or 82,000 people, lost power in Prince Edward Island. The area also enjoys spotty mobile phone service. Police announced several road closures across the region.

“She had a wild ride last night and it was like the whole roof was going to blow off,” said Gary Hatcher, a retiree who lives in Sydney, Nova Scotia, near where the storm made landfall. A banyan tree fell in his yard, but his house was not damaged.

Hubbard said winds gusted to 141 km/h (88 mph) in Sydney.

The storm weakened slightly as it moved north. As of 11 a.m. (1500 GMT), it was in the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 100 miles (160 km) west-northwest of Port aux Basques, with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and barreling to the north. At 25 mph (41 kph), the NHC said.

Fiona is expected to maintain hurricane force winds through Saturday afternoon, the NHC said.

A powerful hurricane when it hit the Caribbean earlier in the week, Fiona killed at least eight people and knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people during a heat wave. Five days later nearly a million people were without power.

No casualties have been reported in Canada so far.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delayed his departure for Japan on Saturday to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Canadian authorities have issued emergency warnings for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, warning of severe flooding along coastlines and extremely dangerous waves. People in coastal areas have been advised to evacuate.

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Reporting Eric Martin in Halifax and John Morris in Stephenville; Additional reporting by Iveliz Rivera in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Written by Steve Scherer; Editing by Frances Kerry and Bill Bergrod

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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