Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials said they found the body of a woman swept into the sea after former Hurricane Fiona washed away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces.
After surging north from the Caribbean, Fiona came ashore before dawn Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone, battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec with hurricane-strength winds, rains and waves.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said troops would help remove fallen trees, restore transportation links and do whatever else is required for as long as it takes. Central Maine Power said it was sending 16 two-person crews and 10 more support personnel to the Maritimes.
Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, and one death in Canada. Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland.
Police said the woman was inside her residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a release on social media that with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard, as other rescue teams. The woman’s body was recovered late Sunday afternoon.
“Living in coastal communities we know what can happen and tragically the sea has taken another from us,” said Gudie Hutchings, the Member of Parliament from Newfoundland.
As of Sunday evening, more than 211,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 81,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island — about 95% of the total — remained in the dark. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% in the province of almost 1 million people — had been affected by outages Saturday. Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
“This was an historic storm that battered Canada’s Atlantic Coast,” said Joe Purinton, CMP’s CEO. “I believe it’s important for utility companies to help their neighbors in times of crisis.”
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said Sunday that over 200 people were in temporary shelters. Over 70 roads were completely inaccessible in her region. She said she couldn’t count the number of homes damaged in her own neighborhood.
She said it was critical for the military to arrive and help clear debris, noting that the road to the airport is inaccessible and the tower has significant damage, adding it was amazing there are no injuries in her community.
“People listened to the warnings and did what they were supposed to do and this was the result,” she said
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said that over 100 military personnel would arrive Sunday to assist in recovery efforts. Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. He said many bridges are destroyed.
“The magnitude and severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” King said, and that it would take a “herculean effort by thousands of people” to recover over the coming days and weeks.
“The sense on the street is one of shock and awe over the magnitude of the storm,” said Sean Casey, a member of parliament who represents Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. He added that locals are also determined to mount a recovery effort. A long line quickly formed after the first gas station opened in his community on Sunday afternoon.
Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said the federal government would also send approximately 100 military personnel to Newfoundland and Labrador as it shifts to recover from the storm.
Entire structures were washed into the sea as raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland. Much of the town of 4,000 had been evacuated and Mayor Brian Button said asked for patience as officials identify where and when people can safely go home. He noted that some residents are showing up at barricades angry and wanting to return.
Officials across Eastern Canada also were assessing the scope of damage caused by the storm, which had moved inland over southeastern Quebec.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the roof of an apartment building collapsed in Nova Scotia’s biggest city and officials had moved 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure — a key sign of storm strength — ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada.
Story by Rob Gillies. Associated Press writers Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.