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S.H.O Sher Singh

    KEY FACTS

    • Fiona was churning out hurricane-force winds at about 150 km/h when it made landfall around 4 a.m. Saturday in eastern Nova Scotia
    • The storm has set an unofficial record for the lowest-ever barometric pressure for a tropical storm making landfall in Canada
    • At Port aux Basques, N.L., some homes have been washed away amid high winds and surging water levels
    • Towns in Cape Breton and on Newfoundland’s southern coast have declared states of emergency
    • The storm has knocked out power to more than 500,000 homes and businesses

    SYDNEY, N.S.— Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say two people were swept out of residences that collapsed into the sea as post-tropical storm Fiona hit Saturday.

    RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland says one woman was rescued by local residents in Port aux Basques, N.L., and is believed to be fine after receiving medical attention.

    “We have a report about another woman who was believed to be swept out into the ocean as her residence was damaged as well — apparently swept out from the basement,” Garland said. “We haven’t been able to verify a status on that woman.” She said storm conditions are too dangerous to conduct a search.

    Towns in Cape Breton and on Newfoundland’s southern coast declared states of emergency on Saturday as post-tropical storm Fiona — one of the strongest storms to ever strike Eastern Canada — continued to lash the region.

    Rene Roy, editor of the weekly newspaper in Port aux Basques, N.L., said he saw evidence that nine homes, including a two-storey apartment building, were washed out to sea by a massive storm surge and wind-driven waves that soared about 25 metres into the air.

    “Lower Water St. is devastated with damage,” said Roy. “There are homes gone. There are homes in the street …. The RCMP are actively investigating whether people have been swept away.”

    Brian Button, the mayor of Port aux Basques, pleaded with residents not to roam around and urged those at risk to seek higher ground.

    A house is submerged on Mouse Island in Port-aux-Basques as Fiona lashes Atlantic Canada.

    “So anybody that’s being told to leave their homes, you need to leave,” Button said Saturday during a Facebook Live broadcast. “There are no ifs, ands or buts, you need to leave.” He warned if they didn’t go, they might find themselves cut off.

    “A house can be replaced but you can’t be, so you need to go and … we’ve already had houses and things that have been washed away, so we need you to go now,” Button said.

    Fiona was churning out hurricane-force winds at about 150 kilometres per hour when it made landfall around 4 a.m. in eastern Nova Scotia, between Canso and Guysborough. The brawny storm has knocked out power to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across Atlantic Canada.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised help in a tweet sent just before 1 p.m. Saturday. “I’m thinking of everyone affected by Hurricane Fiona — I want you to know that we’re here for you,” said Trudeau. “I convened an Incident Response Group meeting with Minister @BillBlair and officials this morning. Our government stands ready to support the provinces with additional resources.”

    In the community of Burgeo, N.L., with just 1,200 residents, Steven Hiscock has been watching the roof of a fish meal processing plant tremble in the ferocious wind.

    “It’s only a matter time before the plant roof comes off, I think,” said Hiscock, program director of the Burgeo Broadcasting System, who spent the day filming the devastation and sharing the videos on Facebook.

    A storage shed filled with Christmas decorations, firewood and other belongings was swallowed by the water. The bottom half of someone’s house is gone and the rest is waiting to collapse. A rock thrown from the waves crashed into a nearby home.

    A bridge he visited earlier in the day is simply no longer there.

    This Sept. 24, 2022, image courtesy of Michael King, special advisor to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, and his family, shows damaged caused by post-tropical storm Fiona on the Burnt Islands, in the Newfoundland and Labrador Province of Canada. Fiona knocked out power to more than 500,000 households as it lashed eastern Canada with strong winds and heavy rain on Saturday, electricity providers said. In the province of Nova Scotia alone, at least 400,000 households lost electricity after Fiona, downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm but still packing winds of 137 kilometres per hour, made landfall, Nova Scotia Power reported.

    And the wind is still gusting.

    “This is most destruction I’ve ever seen from a storm,” he said. “It’s the first time in my lifetime I’ve seen a home destroyed.”

    The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., said Fiona set an unofficial record for the lowest-ever barometric pressure for a tropical storm making landfall in Canada. The recorded pressure at Hart Island was 931.6 millibars.

    “The pressure of a storm is a very good indication of its intensity — how strong and intense the winds will be,” said meteorologist Ian Hubbard. “The deeper the pressure, the more intense it’s going to be.”

    The Halifax Stanfield International Airport reported a gust of 109 km/h at 3 a.m., and a gust hit 135 km/h at the mouth of Halifax Harbour. As well, a gust reached 161 km/h over Beaver Island, N.S., which is along the province’s eastern shore. In Sydney, N.S., gusts hit 141 km/h at 3 a.m. local time, causing severe damage to some homes.

    “We’ve had several structural failures,” said Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, adding no one was hurt. She said it was unclear how many homes had been damaged, but there were reports of collapsed walls and missing roofs.

    “The first responders are really stretched right now. We want people to stay off the roads,” she said. “Most of the roads have hazards on them, with power lines down and trees down as well.”

    Pedestrians survey the damage in Sydney, N.S. as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the Maritimes on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

    Several dozen people in Sydney were forced to move into a shelter set up inside a downtown hockey arena.

    Arlene and Robert Grafilo fled to Centre 200 with their children after a massive tree fell on their duplex apartment, trapping them in their basement unit.

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    Powerful winds from post-tropical storm Fiona blasted Sydney, Nova Scotia, as the storm made landfall. Arlene Grafilo had to take shelter at a local hockey arena with her husband and two children after a tree crashed down on the duplex where they live, trapping them in the basement apartment. (SEPT. 24 / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

    “We heard a lot of noise outside and then we realized that there are a lot of cracks in the house and we looked outside and saw the tree had fallen,” said Arlene Grafilo, 43, as her children — ages 3 and 10 — played in a waiting area set up by the Red Cross.

    “We were trapped and we couldn’t open the doors and the windows, so that’s when we decided to call 911. The children were scared,” she said, adding firefighters eventually rescued them.

    As of 11 a.m. local time, Nova Scotia Power was reporting 406,000 customers were in the dark — almost 80 per cent of the homes and businesses it serves.

    “The wind gusts were really scary,” said Sunny Jamwal in Halifax. “You could hear the windows literally shaking.” Walking by the boardwalk at Halifax Harbour, he saw a boat still docked and in one piece. Along with long lineups at the few open coffee shops, he saw a tree wrenched up from its roots and fallen branches and signs.

    After a sleepless night listening to tree branches and debris thudding above her top-floor bedroom, Natasha Chaisson took a drive around her area, northwest of Halifax, and saw large trees uprooted and power lines down. Some of the fallen trees and branches were just feet away from neighbour’s home, she said.

    “I haven’t seen the wind blow like this since … I can’t remember,” she said. It could be Wednesday night before their power is restored, she added.

    Police block lanes of traffic as both Halifax harbour bridges were closed in Dartmouth, N.S. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Post-tropical storm Fiona hit Nova Scotia in the early hours, knocking out power and disrupting travel across the region.

    On P.E.I., Maritime Electric was reporting that 82,000 of its 86,000 customers were without electricity, and NB Power reported 54,000 New Brunswick customers without power, most of them in and around Moncton, Shediac and Sackville.

    People in Charlottetown woke up to howling winds, broken branches and downed power lines Saturday morning after a night that saw sheets of rain envelope the city.

    “From tonight until possibly Sunday, stay inside unless it is absolutely necessary,” the city said in a statement. “Stay off the roads, and expect continuing power outages.”

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    The city of Charlottetown is littered with downed power lines, splintered and uprooted trees and debris scattered by the mighty winds of the post-tropical storm. Lena Caseley, a resident of Parkdale, Charlottetown, says she’s never seen such destruction. She has lived in the city for 30 years. (SEPT. 24/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

    At the Charlottetown airport, the wind was gusting at 120 km/h at 10 a.m. local time, and a 150 km/h gust was recorded at the eastern edge of the Island at East Point.

    Steve Clements, who spent the night at Jack Blanchard Hall, one of Charlottetown’s temporary shelters, said he was thankful to be “out of the elements.” He said most other shelters are open from around 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is inconvenient during a major storm.

    “It’s temporary. It’s also really loud. And it’s not easy to sleep,” he said with a laugh pointing around the room. “But … It’s better than the alternative. It’s better than being out.”

    Meanwhile, parts of eastern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have recorded 75 to 150 millimetres of rainfall. Final totals have yet to be tallied.

    In coastal Cow Bay, N.S., southeast of Halifax, Caralee McDaniel said the nearby Atlantic Ocean was “just wild.”

    Waves pound the shore in Eastern Passage, N.S. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Post-tropical storm Fiona hit Nova Scotia in the early hours, knocking out power and disrupting travel across the region.

    “We’re watching the wild waves crashing,” she said in an interview from her friend’s home, which lost power around 11:30 p.m.

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