Byline: ROB GILLIES Associated Press
TORONTO Fiona washed houses into the sea, tore the roofs off others and knocked out power to the vast majority of two Canadian provinces as it made landfall before dawn Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone.
Fiona transformed from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late Friday, but it still had hurricane-strength winds and brought drenching rains and huge waves. There was no confirmation of fatalities or injuries.
Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea. Mayor Brian Button said Saturday over social media that people were being evacuated to high ground as winds knocked down power lines.
"I'm seeing homes in the ocean. I'm seeing rubble floating all over the place. It's complete and utter destruction. There's an apartment that is gone," René J. Roy, a resident of Channel-Port Aux Basques and chief editor at Wreckhouse Press, said in a phone interview.
Roy estimated between eight to 12 houses and buildings have washed into the sea. "It's quite terrifying," he said.
Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador, said a woman was safe and in "good health" after being "tossed into the water as her home collapsed" in the Channel-Port Aux Basques area. Garland said that an individual who might have been swept away was still reported as missing and that high winds were preventing an aerial search.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the town of 4,000 people was in a state of emergency as authorities dealt with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau canceled his trip to Japan for the funeral for assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trudeau said the federal government would deploy the Canadian Armed Forces to assist.
"We are seeing devastating images coming out of Port aux Basques. PEI (Prince Edward Island) has experienced storm damage like they've never seen. Cape Breton is being hit hard, too," Trudeau said.
"Canadians are thinking of all those affected by Hurricane Fiona, which is having devastating effects in the Atlantic provinces and eastern Quebec, particularly in the Magdalen Islands. There are people who see their houses destroyed, people who are very worried we will be there for you."
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the roof of an apartment building collapsed and they moved 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt or killed. Provincial officials said there are other apartment buildings that are also significantly damaged. Halifax has about 160 people displaced from two apartments, officials said.
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers about 80% of the province of almost 1 million were affected by outages Saturday morning. Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island, about 95%, were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without electricity.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted early Saturday that Fiona had the lowest pressure ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be the one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.
"We're getting more severe storms more frequently," Trudeau said Saturday.
He said more resilient infrastructure is needed to be able withstand extreme weather events, saying a one in a 100 year storm might start to hit every few years because of climate change.
"Things are only getting worse," Trudeau said.
A state of local emergency was also declared by the mayor and council of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
"There are homes that have been significantly damaged due to downed trees, big old trees falling down and causing significant damage. We're also seeing houses that their roofs have completely torn off, windows breaking in. There is a huge amount of debris in the roadways," Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told The Associated Press
"There is a lot of damage to belongings and structures but no injuries to people as of this point. Again we're still in the midst of this," she said. "It's still terrifying. I'm just sitting here in my living room and it feels like the patio doors are going to break in with those big gusts."
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said roads were washed out, including his own, and said an "incredible" amount of trees were down. "It is pretty devastating. The sad reality is the people who need information are unable to hear it. Their phones are not working, they don't have power or access to the internet," Houston said.