Canada struggles to restore power, clear roads after storm

Canada
In this photo provided by Wreckhouse Press a home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical Storm Fiona in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador. The home has since been lost at sea.
Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press via AP

By ROB GILLIES Associated Press

TORONTO — Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials tried to assess the scope of devastation from former Hurricane Fiona, which swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces.

After surging north from the Caribbean, Fiona came ashore before dawn Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone, battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec with hurricane-strength winds, rains and waves.

Defense Minister Anita Anand said troops would help remove fallen trees throughout Eastern Canada, restore transportation links and do whatever else is required for as long as it takes. She didn’t specify how many troops would be deployed.

Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, and while there were no confirmed fatalities in Canada, authorities on Sunday were searching for a 73-year-old woman missing in the hardest hit town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland.

“She’s likely washed out to sea but we haven’t been able to confirm that,” said Cpl. Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Police said the woman was last seen inside the residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement.

As of Sunday, more than 252,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 82,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island — about 95% of the total — remained in the dark. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% in the province of almost 1 million people — had been affected by outages Saturday.

Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said Sunday that over 200 people were in temporary shelters. Over 70 roads were completely inaccessible in her region, which declared a state of emergency. She said she couldn’t count the number of homes damaged in her own neighborhood.

She said it was critical for the military to arrive and help clear debris, noting that the road to the airport is inaccessible and the tower has significant damage.

McDougall said it is amazing there are no injuries.

“People listened to the warnings and did what they were supposed to do and this was the result,” she said

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said that over 100 military personnel would be arriving in the province later Sunday to assist in recovery efforts. Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. He said many bridges are destroyed.

“The magnitude and severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” King said, and that it would take a “herculean effort by thousands of people” to recover over the coming days and weeks.

Entire structures were washed into the sea as raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.

“This is not a one-day situation where we can all go back to normal,” Mayor Brian Button said on social media. Unfortunately, this is going to take days, it could take weeks, it could take months in some cases.”

Much of the town of 4,000 had been evacuated and Button said asked for patience as officials identify where and when people can safely go home. He noted that some residents are showing up at barricades angry and wanting to return.

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