MONTREAL: Strong Storm Fiona powered more than 500,000 homes on Saturday as it lashed eastern Canada with high winds and torrential rain in conditions police said were “like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
Though Fiona was downgraded by a hurricane, she was still gripped by winds of 85 miles (137 kilometers) per hour as she sped ashore in the early hours of the morning after battering the Caribbean Sea, forecasters said.
In the province of Novia Scotia, more than 400,000 homes were without power, Novia Scotia Power reported.
Around 82,000 homes lost power on neighboring Price Edward Island, and police in the provincial capital, Charlottetown, released images of tangled power lines and roofs punctured by felled trees.
“Conditions are like nothing we’ve seen,” police tweeted.
Hurricane Fiona threatens Bermuda as it heads to hit Canada
“It’s unbelievable, there’s no power, no Wi-Fi, no more network,” Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said on Radio-Canada television.
“It’s stronger than Hurricane Juan in 2003. A lot of trees are down, there’s a lot of flooding on the roads.”
Canada had issued severe weather warnings for parts of its east coast.
“Significant impacts from strong winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall are expected,” the US National Hurricane Center said in a report.
The Canadian Hurricane Center (CHC) said high-velocity winds were reported in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Newfoundland and that the storm would steam northeast, causing “damaging winds, waves and storm surge.”
Rainfalls of up to 125 millimeters (4.9 inches) were recorded in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the CHC said, with big waves of up to 12 meters (40 feet) hitting Nova Scotia and western Newfoundland.
The CHC said conditions would improve in western Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick on Saturday.
Nova Scotia authorities had issued an emergency call by phone, saying people should stay indoors with adequate supplies for at least 72 hours.
In Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, stores selling propane cylinders for camp stoves sold out as residents stocked up.
Before it arrived, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the storm “a bad one,” adding that it “could have a significant impact across the region.”
Fiona had bypassed Bermuda a day earlier, with residents down and authorities telling people to stay indoors as high winds swept across British territory. No deaths or major damage were reported as the storm passed about 100 miles west of the island.
Bermuda, whose economy is fueled by international finance and tourism, is prosperous compared to most Caribbean countries, and structures must be built to strict planning codes to withstand storms. Some have been doing this for centuries.
Fiona killed at least four people in Puerto Rico earlier this week, while two deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic and one in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, according to US media.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, a US territory still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria five years ago.
In the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader has declared three eastern provinces disaster areas.