Hurricane Fiona: Canadians on Atlantic coast to remain vigilant if storm passes near Bermuda


Deadly Hurricane Fiona has intensified into a Category 4 storm as it hurtles toward Canada’s Atlantic coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Officials in Canada’s Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are urging people in the storm’s path to remain on high alert and prepare for the impact of the hurricane, which has claimed at least five lives this week and shut down hundreds. Electricity supply for thousands of people. It hit multiple Caribbean islands.

“Air Force hurricane hunters have been investigating this major hurricane and found it to be still strong and very large,” the center said in an update Friday morning.

“This could be a landmark event for Canada in terms of the intensity of a tropical cyclone,” said Chris Fogarty, manager of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, and it could even become Canada’s version of Superstorm Sandy. Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states and the entire Eastern Seaboard, causing an estimated $78.7 billion in damage.

“It has the potential to be very dangerous,” said John Lore, the minister in charge of the provincial Office of Emergency Management. “The effects are expected to be felt across the province. Every Nova Scotia should be prepared today,” Lorre added in Thursday’s official update.

Residents should prepare for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surges and heavy rain that could lead to prolonged power outages, Lohr said. Emergency officials encouraged people to protect outdoor items, trim trees, charge their phones and create a 72-hour emergency kit.

According to Chris Fogarty, manager of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, the region has not seen such a severe storm in about 50 years.

“Take it seriously, because the weather data we see in the weather map is rare here,” Fogarty said.

Utility Nova Scotia Power on Friday morning activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that will serve as the central coordination area for outage recovery and response, according to a news release.

The company will also work closely with the Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management.

“We are taking every precaution and will be ready to respond to Hurricane Fiona as safely and effectively as possible,” Nova Scotia Power’s lead storm coordinator, Sean Bodden, said in a news release.

“Once Fiona passes Bermuda, the storm is expected to affect Nova Scotia on Saturday afternoon. Fiona will become extratropical before impact, but that will do little to stop the damage Fiona can do,” CNN Weather J. Robert Shackelford explained.

If Fiona makes landfall in Nova Scotia, winds across Atlantic Canada could be around 100 mph (160 km/h), Shackelford said.

Bermuda, which is under a tropical storm warning, closed schools and government offices on Friday, Bermuda National Security Minister Michael Weeks said.

In Canada, hurricane warnings have been issued for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brewer and Newfoundland from Parsons Pond to Francois. Prince Edward Island and Madeleine Island were also warned.

Officials in Prince Edward Island are imploring residents to prepare for the worst as the storm approaches.

Tanya Mullally, who is the province’s chief of emergency management, said one of Fiona’s most pressing concerns is the expected historic storm surge.

“The storm surge is definitely going to be significant. … We didn’t see or measure flooding,” Mulally said in an update Thursday.

Models from the Canadian Hurricane Centre suggest that storm surge “may be between 1.8 and 2.4 meters (6-8 feet) depending on the region,” said Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist at the center.

Mulally said the northern part of the island bears the brunt of the winds, which could cause property damage and coastal flooding.

The Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management said all provincial campgrounds, beaches and day parks and the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park will be closed at noon Friday.

“As we prepare for significant storm conditions on Friday night and Saturday, safety is our number one priority. We are closing provincial park properties for the storm and reopening when it is safe to do so,” Minister of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy Tori Rushton said in a statement announcing the closure.

Earlier this week, Fiona damaged homes and critical power and water infrastructure for millions of people in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

After Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday and experienced island-wide power outages for several days, only 38 percent of customers had power back on Thursday, according to grid operator LUMA Energy.

Much of Puerto Rico experienced extreme heat, leading to massive power outages that pushed temperatures as high as 112 degrees Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Daniel Hernández, LUMA’s director of renewable energy projects, explained that critical sites, including hospitals, will be prioritized before repairs can begin at the individual level.

“It’s a normal process. It’s important for everyone to stay calm … We’re trying to make sure 100 percent of our customers are served as quickly as possible,” Hernandez said.

As of Thursday night, nearly 360,000 customers experienced intermittent water service or no service at all, according to the government’s emergency portal system.

As of Wednesday, more than 800 people had been housed in dozens of shelters across the island, according to Puerto Rico Housing Secretary William Rodriguez.

President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for U.S. territory, FEMA said. The move allows residents to receive temporary housing and home repair grants and low-interest loans to cover uninsured property damage.

Nancy Galarza looks at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona on her community, which remains cut off four days after the storm ripped through the rural community of San Salvador in the Puerto Rico town of Caguas on Thursday.

Maj. General Juan Mendez Garcia, head of emergency operations in the Dominican Republic.

He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in darkness on Thursday morning, and another 725,246 customers were without running water.

“It’s something incredible that we’ve never seen before,” Ramona Santana of Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español this week. “We have nothing on the street, no food, no shoes, no clothes, just what you have on your back. … We have nothing. We have God, and hopefully help will come.”

Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, with power still out in some areas of British territory earlier this week, namely Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos Islands and Middle Caicos, Anya Williams said, islands.

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