Fiona: Homes washed into the sea and thousands without power as storm batters Canada

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
A home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical Storm Fiona in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador
A home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical Storm Fiona in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador   -   Copyright  Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press

Post-tropical storm Fiona battered eastern Canada with hurricane-strength winds, torrential rains and huge waves which swept away houses and left hundreds of thousands without power. 

Canadian troops have been mobilised to assist recovery efforts after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to provide help to those affected.

"I know this is an extremely difficult time for many people who have seen their house, their property destroyed. But I also know that these people know they are not alone and that we will be here for them", he said.

Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax, said the roof of an apartment building collapsed in Nova Scotia's biggest city, and officials had moved 100 people to an evacuation centre. He said no one was seriously hurt.

Provincial officials said other apartment buildings sustained significant damage.

'It's quite terrifying'

Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, but there was no confirmation of any fatalities or serious injuries in Canada. Police said a woman who might have been swept away was listed as missing in the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland.

Raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, and entire structures were washed into the sea.

“I’m seeing homes in the ocean. I’m seeing rubble floating all over the place. It’s complete and utter destruction. There’s an apartment that is gone,” René J. Roy, chief editor at Wreckhouse Press and a resident of the town, said.

Roy estimated between eight to 12 houses and buildings had washed into the sea. “It’s quite terrifying,” he said.

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

Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island, about 95%, also lost power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without electricity.

Peter Gregg, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, said unprecedented peak winds inflicted severe damage and the bad weather kept repair crews from going out at first. 

He said about 380,000 customers remained without power Saturday afternoon as a weakening Fiona moved away over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.

Canada's provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were particularly hard-hit, with gusts uprooting trees and bringing down power lines.

Rainfall of up to 125 millimetres was recorded in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, authorities said.