Canada’s east coast faces long road to recovery from battering by Fiona
Focus shifts to huge cleanup efforts, damage assessment and restoration of power and telecom services
Stephenville, Newfoundland — After powerful storm Fiona left a trail of destruction in Canada’s east coast on Saturday, the focus shifted to huge cleanup efforts, damage assessment and restoration of power and telecom services as officials warned of a long road to recovery.
The storm slammed into eastern Canada with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, uprooting trees and power lines, and reducing many homes to “just a pile of rubble”.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre estimated that Fiona was the lowest pressured land-falling storm on record in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said armed forces will be deployed to help with the cleanup, adding that Fiona caused huge damage and recovery will require a big effort.
Despite the intensity of the storm, there were no serious injuries or deaths, which government officials said was a result of residents paying heed to the repeated warnings.
Still, thousands of residents across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland were without power and dealing with patchy telecom connections.
Government officials pleaded with residents for patience. They warned that in some cases it would take weeks before essential services are fully restored.
“We do know that the damage is very extensive, quite likely the worst we have ever seen,” Dennis King, the premier of Prince Edward Island, told reporters on Saturday.
“Islanders ... should know that our road to recovery will be weeks or longer. It will be an all-hands-on-deck approach,” he added.
The Canadian Red Cross has launched a fundraising drive to support affected people.
Government officials said the full scale of the destruction will be known in the coming days and weeks. But with the storm packing gusts of up to 170km/h sweeping away homes, bridges and roads, Fiona was reminiscent of the damage caused by other storms, including Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which is estimated to have had an insurance bill of C$105m.
Premieres of the affected provinces told the federal government they need long-term support around public and critical infrastructure after the storm tore off roofs of schools and community centres, as well as quick relief to businesses and families to get on with normal life quickly.
The storm also severely damaged fishing harbours in Atlantic Canada, which could hurt the country’s C$3.2bn lobster industry unless it is fully restored before the season kicks off in a few weeks.
“Those fishers have a very immediate need to be able to access their livelihood once the storm passes,” Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs of Canada, said on Saturday. “So this is exactly the kind of work that will accompany provincial authorities in the coming weeks and months,” he added.
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