Hundreds of thousands of Canadians were without power Saturday after former hurricane Fiona slammed into the country’s Atlantic provinces, causing what officials called a shocking and devastating amount of damage.
Trees were downed and power poles were snapped in half, and roofs were ripped off buildings and homes washed away after Fiona made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia around 3 a.m., officials said.
When Fiona made landfall near Whitehead it was a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds of 90 mph, officials said.
“It’s shocking the damage that we’re seeing,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said Saturday.
A storm surge of over 6 feet hit Prince Edward Island. The damage is likely the worst ever seen in the province, and the recovery will take weeks or longer, Premier Dennis King said.
No deaths associated with the storm had been reported by Saturday afternoon.
More than 471,000 customers across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island New Brunswick and Newfoundland were without power Saturday, according to utilities.
Nova Scotia Power CEO Peter Gregg said that some will be without power for “multiple days.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau canceled plans to attend a state funeral in Japan for murdered former prime minister Shinzo Abe. He said the storm was having a “terrible impact.”
“We’re seeing devastating images come out of Port aux Basques,” Trudeau said. “PEI (Prince Edward Island) has experienced storm damage like they’ve never seen. Cape Breton is being hit hard, too, as is Quebec.”
He said the country’s armed forces would be deployed to assist in the aftermath, and the federal government would be ready to help.
In Port aux Basques on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland, evacuations were ordered and Mayor Brian Button said “total devastation” was occurring, the CBC reported.
Video from the news agency showed homes being washed away. Phil Boyles fled because of the storm surge. “I took everything out that I could try to keep, and now it don’t look like I can even get back,” he said, according to the CBC.
Fiona had been a Category 4 hurricane as it approached Bermuda.
It caused major damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic earlier this week when it was Category 1 storm. Fifteen deaths in Puerto Rico and two deaths in the Dominican Republic have been tied to the storm, officials there said.
The hurricane had been forecast to be a historic weather event for eastern Canada and one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.
In Prince Edward Island, King, the premier, said Saturday that the damage is most likely the worst the province has ever seen.
“It was billed as one of the most severe storms to ever hit our province, and by all accounts hurricane Fiona has lived up to that billing,” he said.
He was grateful that there had been no reports of serious injuries or worse, but said “our road to recovery will be weeks or longer.”
At 6 p.m. local time, Fiona was 80 miles northwest of Port aux Basques and was moving northeast at 8 mph, the National Hurricane Center in the U.S. said.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was forecast to move across Labrador and over the Labrador Sea late Saturday and into Sunday. It will produce large swells and life-threatening rip currents, the center said.