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Post-tropical storm Fiona live updates: ‘Unprecedented’ damage to Atlantic Canada will take months to rebuild

Post-tropical storm Fiona live updates: ‘Unprecedented’ damage to Atlantic Canada will take months to rebuild thumbnail

  • Damage to Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou caused by post-tropical storm Fiona in N.F. on SundayPAULINE BILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

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Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall in Atlantic Canada early Saturday morning, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge that washed some buildings into the ocean.


Here are the latest updates on Fiona:

  • Canadian military personnel are arriving in Nova Scotia today to do reconnaissance work ahead of operations to restore transportation and remove debris.
  • Crews worked throughout the night to restore power across the Atlantic region, but more than 240,000 residents are still without electricity.
  • Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair confirmed that the body of a woman who had been swept out to sea in Port aux Basques, N.L. has been recovered.
  • Fiona moved into southeastern Quebec on Sunday, with Environment Canada saying it will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
  • ‘We’re going to have whatever party we can have until the battery dies on the speaker’: Couple proceeds with wedding amid storm

10: 00 p.m. ET

How Fiona turned the barely imaginable into the all-too possible — and what it means for future storms

Damage at the wharf in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I. on Sept. 25, 2022.Brian McInnis /The Canadian Press

Like other recent global weather disasters, Fiona seemed to cross the boundary between the rare and the hard to believe. In doing so, it has reset the public impression of what kinds of storms are possible in the region.

In this instance, said Doug Mercer, a meteorologist and forecaster with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, the storm’s unusual severity was determined by a fateful confluence of conditions, including low wind shear and a path that kept it over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream as it moved north.

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As a result, unlike most tropical storms and hurricanes that reach Canada, Fiona lost little of its strength by the time it slammed into a wide swath of the Atlantic coast, centred on a point in Guysborough County Nova Scotia. From there it sped on to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, leaving destruction in its wake.

Lurking in the background, Ivan Semeniuk reports, is whether the storm is a once-in-a-lifetime fluke or a sign of more to come.


9: 30 p.m. ET

Couple doesn’t let Fiona spoil wedding, already postponed by pandemic

Samantha Murphy (center) and her wedding party prepare for her wedding a day after post-tropical storm Fiona swept through Sydney, N.S.Samantha Murphy/Handout

In the week leading up to her wedding, Samantha Murphy did that thing every bride does where she routinely checked the weather forecast for her big day. One of the worst storms to ever hit Atlantic Canada was in the forecast, expected to make landfall hours before she and her fiancé Richard Wood – both paramedics – were supposed to exchange vows.

The couple, engaged since 2019, had already postponed their wedding once because of COVID-19 and after Saturday’s stay-at-home order was lifted, they decided to push ahead with their wedding Sunday, one day late. Mr. Wood’s family and some of the couple’s friends had flown in from Ontario earlier in the week – rescheduling was off the table.

Sydney, N.S., suffered some of the worst destruction in the province from the weekend’s storm, though members of the bridal party were among the lucky ones whose homes weren’t too badly damaged. Most in the area still didn’t have power but the couple, the majority of their 130 guests and all their vendors were determined to make the nuptials work – with a few modifications.

– Dakshana Bascaramurty


9: 00 p.m. ET

Ottawa to deliver financial aid for uninsured people affected by post-tropical storm Fiona

People remove items from damaged buildings that were moved from their position by the hurricane in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, Sept. 25, 2022.JOHN MORRIS/Reuters

As communities in Atlantic Canada begin their recovery from the widespread damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona, the federal government says it will step in to support the many people whose homes and businesses were uninsured against coastal flooding, or uninsurable.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told a news conference on Sunday that the government will co-ordinate with provinces to deliver financial aid to uninsured people in Atlantic Canada through a disaster funding program. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, said he has already spoken to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Premier about the potentially large amount of uninsured storm damage.

“Through the provinces, they determine an assessment of what needs to be done and they’ll make requests to us,” Mr. Blair said. “We have undertaken to them that we’ll work very closely and very quickly.”

But insurance experts say such assistance for uninsured people is only a stopgap measure, and that it’s important that Ottawa make government-backed flood insurance available as soon as possible.

– Salmaan Farooqui


7: 45 p.m. ET

Canadians share stories of resilience as Atlantic Canada begins its post-Fiona recovery

A person points towards a damaged house after the arrival of Hurricane Fiona in Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, Sept. 25, 2022.JOHN MORRIS/Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of people in the East Coast were left without power, as trees were pulled from the ground and houses were ripped in half by the devastating winds of post-tropical storm Fiona.

In some of the hardest hit regions of Atlantic Canada, entire homes were swept out to sea. As the military and Red Cross prepared for an unprecedented cleanup, neighbours and volunteers came to each other’s aid in smaller ways, beginning the long recovery and rebuilding process.

Molly Hayes, Dakshana Bascaramurty and Lindsay Jones share stories of resilience, from across the region.

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7: 10 p.m. ET

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity

By late Sunday afternoon, more than 242,000 homes and businesses in Nova Scotia were still without electricity. That was down from more than 414,000 outages on Saturday, a figure representing more than 80 per cent of Nova Scotia Power’s customers.

In P.E.I., more than 82,000 Maritime Electric customers were still in the dark – a number representing more than 90 per cent of the utility’s customers.

The numbers were much better in Newfoundland, where 2,200 homes and businesses were without power. Another 13,000 had no electricity in New Brunswick, most of them in the Moncton area and along the province’s eastern shore.

– The Canadian Press


5: 10 p.m. ET

Body of Port aux Basques woman has been recovered, Blair confirms

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair has confirmed that the body of a woman who had been swept out to sea in Port aux Basques, N.L. has been recovered.

Police said earlier on Sunday that they had received a report Saturday morning that the 73-year-old woman was “possibly washed out to sea from her home.”

RCMP in the province said the woman’s body was recovered from the water more than 24 hours after a massive wave struck her home, tearing away part of the basement. Her name was not immediately released.

“RCMP NL offers deepest condolences to the family and friends of the missing woman and thanks all who assisted in the search and recovery,” police said in a statement.

They said she was last seen in her home just moments before a wave struck the home, tearing away a portion of the basement.

A search for the woman was not possible Saturday because of severe weather.

Minister Blair said his thoughts are with the woman’s family and with her community.

– Globe staff and The Canadian Press


4: 30 p.m. ET

Federal ministers provide update on response to Fiona

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair added that Ottawa will work with provinces to determine what is needed for recovery from a financial perspective, especially for Canadians who have lost everything. But he said the immediate need is to provide food and shelter, which is why the federal government is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

“Our first priority right now, of course, is the restoration of power and utilities and to open up those roadways so that we can get those essential supplies to the people that are going to need them,” he said.

Also in Ottawa, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he has been in touch with the heads of Bell, Rogers, Eastlink and Xplornet to ensure they were working to restore disrupted phone and internet services.

– The Canadian Press


3: 45 p.m. ET

Ottawa to send 100 soldiers to help clean up Prince Edward Island

In Charlottetown, Premier Dennis King said Ottawa had agreed to send 100 soldiers to help clean up Prince Edward Island.

“The magnitude and the severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” he told an online briefing Sunday, adding all Island schools would be closed Monday. “Efforts have already begun to clean up, but this will take a herculean effort by thousands of people.”

Damage to the Stanley Bridge Marina, including a boat knocked ashore from wind and storm surge, a day after post-tropical storm Fiona on September 25, 2022 in New London, Prince Edward Island.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tanya Mullally, the Island’s acting director of public safety, told the news conference that the cause of a recent death had yet to be determined, but preliminary findings pointed towards “generator use.” She did not provide details.

The Island was not the only province poised to receive military assistance with the clean-up effort. Federal Defence Minister Anita Anand said Sunday that about 100 troops a piece were either in place or en route to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

– The Canadian Press


3: 45 p.m. ET

‘It’s difficult to see’: Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston surveys Cape Breton

In Nova Scotia, Premier Tim Houston surveyed some of the hardest hit areas of Cape Breton, where Fiona’s wrath left many homes badly damaged. Arriving in Glace Bay aboard a helicopter, Houston spoke outside a car wash that had collapsed onto a nearby house.

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“We know there are a lot of people … that don’t have any place to go,” he said. “Just driving around and seeing the damage, it’s difficult to see.”

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston provides a briefing on post-tropical storm Fiona and the governmental response in front of a destroyed structure in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia on Sunday September 25, 2022.Vaughan Merchant/The Canadian Press

Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said almost 200 local residents were forced to leave their homes. She confirmed that the Red Cross was setting up food trucks to help those running out of supplies.

Despite downed trees, washed-out roads and widespread power outages, some Cape Breton residents decided to carry on with milestone events on Sunday.

– The Canadian Press


2: 45 p.m. ET

Cape Breton communities look ‘like a war zone,’ says local resident

In Reserve Mines, about 15 kilometres east of Sydney, Nova Scotia, Darren MacKinnon was cutting up fallen trees, some of which had landed on nearby homes.

“Glace Bay and Reserve Mines look like a war zone,” he said of the two Cape Breton communities. “Houses with roofs ripped off, trees down … I know Cape Bretoners will help out their friends and family as much as they can.”

Vehicles turn around as trees and downed power lines block a road in Reserve Mines, Nova Scotia. Formerly Hurricane Fiona, the storm is one of the strongest Atlantic Canada has seen in years.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

George MacDonald, a former councillor with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said five trees fell on his home as the storm raged.

“We’re lucky in a way,” he said. “The windows stayed. Maybe the positive is the trees fell on the house and protected the windows.”

Two doors down, neighbour Reggie Boutilier lost part of his roof and his shed was torn apart.

“The wind was very high coming through here,” the 67-year-old tech worker said as he prepared to install some plastic sheathing. “It was just catching the peak of the house all night. The force was incredible.”

– The Canadian Press


12: 34 p.m. ET

‘We’re going into recovery mode,’ Quebec minister says after storm batters Îles-de-la-Madeleine

In eastern Quebec, officials were heading to the storm-battered island chain of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where high winds and storm surges caused flooding and road closures.

Provincial Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault confirmed that 30 and 40 people were forced to leave their homes, but no one was hurt.

“We’re going into recovery mode,” she told reporters in Quebec City.

Guilbault said one of two underwater telecommunication cables linking the islands with the mainland – dubbed COGIM 1 – was damaged by Fiona, but she said the other remained intact.

Guilbault said the Quebec government has worked hard to lessen the impact of storms that have worsened with climate change, saying millions of dollars have been invested in slowing coastal erosion.

“As it’s an island, the problem is fairly chronic around the island and in eastern Quebec in general,” she said.

Meanwhile, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault and Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon have both said they intend to visit Îles-de-la-Madeleine on Monday if conditions allow.

– The Canadian Press


12: 34 p.m. ET

Search underway for missing 73-year old woman, RMCP say

The search for a woman who went missing Saturday has started, RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador said.

Police received a report Saturday morning that the 73-year-old woman was “possibly washed out to sea from her home.” She was last seen in her home “just moments before a wave struck the home, tearing away a portion of the basement,” the RCMP said on Facebook.

A search for the woman was not possible Saturday because of severe weather. Aerial and ground searches will be begin when weather permits, the RCMP said.

The RCMP cautioned residents not to perform their own searches, at it could put those involved at risk.

– Globe staff


11: 57 a.m. ET

Clean up begins in Atlantic Canada

Home owners were cleaning up Sunday morning and assessing damage along New Brunswick’s southeastern coast, where the storm caused significant flooding and erosion. Fiona hammered wharfs, roads, homes and cottages along the Northumberland Strait, and tore up the wooden footbridge at the popular Bouctouche sand dunes park.

New Brunswick’s public safety minister said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by the storm. But homeowners who were affected can likely expect some kind of government help, he said.

In Charlottetown, P.E.I., where thousands remained without power on Sunday morning, police told residents to stay home. Many roads throughout the province were still blocked by downed trees and power lines, making it difficult for crews to get where they needed to go.

People were being told to be wait for crews to clear their streets, while priority was being given to clearing main roads around fire stations and reception centres hosting people who had to leave their homes.

“Under no circumstances should residents attempt to clear trees or branches away from downed power lines,” the City of Charlottetown said, in a press release.

“If it safe to do so, please place manageably sized debris in piles on the side of the road and away from sidewalks. This will help city crews during the lengthy clean up process ahead.”

– Greg Mercer


10: 45 a.m. ET

Canadian Red Cross launches appeal for donations

The Canadian Red Cross has launched an appeal for donations to support those who’ve been affected by the hurricane. The organization said teams are currently providing support in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec.

”Hurricane Fiona has caused unprecedented damage across eastern Canada, impacting hundreds of thousands of people,” President and CEO Conrad Sauvé said in a statement. “While the full impacts of the hurricane are not yet known, the needs will be immense. The Red Cross will be there to support those impacted as they recover from this devastating storm in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

Canadians who have been impacted by Hurricane Fiona can register for assistance with the Red Cross online.


10: 27 a.m. ET

Damage to Atlantic Canada from storm Fiona is ‘unprecedented,’ Bill Blair says

The breadth of the damage caused by the powerful storm Fiona that ravaged Atlantic Canada on Saturday has never been seen before, and it will take months to rebuild the critical infrastructure that was destroyed, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said on Sunday.

“The scale of what we’re dealing with, I think it’s unprecedented,” Blair told Reuters in a telephone interview when asked how Fiona compared to Dorian, a storm that struck the region around Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2019.

“There is going to be what I believe will likely be several months work in restoring some of the critical infrastructure – buildings and homes, rooftops that have been blown off community centers and schools,” he added.

– Reuters

The city of Charlottetown is littered with downed power lines, splintered and uprooted trees and debris scattered by the mighty winds of post-tropical storm Fiona. Lena Caseley, a resident of Parkdale, Charlottetown, says she’s never seen such destruction. She has lived in the city for 30 years.

The Canadian Press

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