Canada

The ways Maritime emergency officials, residents are preparing for Hurricane Fiona


As Hurricane Fiona barrels toward Atlantic Canada, emergency officials in the region are asking residents to heed their advice.


The storm is forecast to enter Atlantic Canadian waters late Friday and make landfall in the region Saturday morning.


NOVA SCOTIA


The minister responsible for Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office says Fiona’s impact has the potential to be “very dangerous.”


“Impacts are projected to be felt across the province,” said John Lohr. “Every Nova Scotian should be preparing today and bracing for impact.”


Severe and damaging winds are expected to result in widespread power outages.


Nova Scotia Power’s chief operating officer David Pickles says the company will open its emergency operations centre Friday and have a crew of more than 800 on standby.


“We know it’s a very significant wind event, trees are still in full bloom, trees and limbs will come down and that will cause power outages,” says Pickles.


Construction sites are also a concern, not only for loose materials becoming airborne, but for the roughly 32 tower cranes dotting the Halifax skyline.


It was during post-tropical storm Dorian when a crane fell on a building where it was set up. No one was injured.


Individuals might see a tower crane spinning, but experts say that is the intention.


“When it’s not operational, the crane itself is allowed to weathervane or rotate freely from the wind to minimize any wind load on it,” said Jeff Dolan, director of Technical Safety with the province.


There are several tent encampments in Halifax and outreach workers are making the rounds letting those living rough know of emergency shelter options, including one in Dartmouth which will open Friday, along with another in Sackville.


Halifax Mayor Mike Savage is urging residents to prepare.


“This storm is going to hit us folks, and it’s going to hit us in the face, and so we have to be ready,” said Savage.


People are encouraged to have enough food and supplies for 72 hours. Officials say those living in coastal communities should be ready to leave if an evacuation order is issued on short notice.


Further north in the province, Cape Breton might be leading the regional rush to prepare for Hurricane Fiona, given the current track of the storm.


Justin Green, whose company helps install sump pumps, has been getting many customers ready for the impending weather.


“We’ve definitely been swamped,” says Green. “We’ve been busy in preparation to try and get materials together here. It’s been crazy.”


CTV News spoke with Lawrence Wilson Thursday afternoon as he trimmed trees on his property.


“Some big, heavy branches were sticking out towards the south, so I just cleaned them off,” said Wilson.


Gary Leblanc, who works for a property restoration company, says a lack of trades workers has him worried he won’t be able to keep up with the demand for potential hurricane clean-ups.


“We’ve seen so many times where [hurricanes] will go towards the right out to sea, but this one doesn’t seem to be doing that and it’s making me very nervous,” says Leblanc.


Crews throughout the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) have been busy making sure sewer lines are clear and ready for heavy rain.


“Over time, it builds up and eventually, it reaches the surface,” says Mark Monaghan, who works for the municipality. “When that happens, the roads flood and people get water in their homes.”


Waves as high as 15-metres, or 50 feet, could slam parts of the Cape Breton Coast.


One popular piece of shoreline always at risk is Dominion Beach, after suffering severe damage from storm surges and coastal erosion.


CBRM councillor Darren Bruckschwaiger, who has headed-up efforts to save the beach, says he is particularly worried about potential damage from Hurricane Fiona.


Phase one of a project to preserve the beach added a rock wall to protect its parking lot and a building behind it. However, Bruckschwaiger says there may only be so much the barrier can do in a storm of Fiona’s size.


Bruckschwaiger says, while he has seen severe storms damage the beach in the past, “this one here is the one that puts the fear in me.”


“Depending on the wind directions, and they’re saying it’s turning, there’s a chance of it turning towards the beach. If you get that, we’re in some serious trouble,” he said.


Bruckschwaiger is asking any would-be wave watchers to avoid the beach during the storm.


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND


Like Cape Breton, parts of Prince Edward Island could be hit with some of the worst weather. Aside from wind and rain, a storm surge threatens to cause damage.


Heavy waves are expected to batter shorelines, particularly along the Island’s northern coast.


“The words that they were using, with Canadian Hurricane Centre, is ‘historic storm surge,’ so flooding that we have not seen, nor can we measure against,” said Tanya Mullally, director of the P.E.I. Emergency Measures Organization.


“We were measuring against [Hurricane] Juan yesterday. And now, they’re kind of saying, ‘Well, that may not be sufficient,'” she said.


High winds are also a concern for the Island’s heavily treed capital city, Charlottetown. Officials say full canopies and root systems weakened by rain make tree fall likely.


In response to heightened concerns, the province raised its emergency response to level two.


“What that means is we’re bringing in more partners around the table,” says P.E.I. Minister of Public Safety Darlene Compton. “Government departments like social development and housing, transportation, municipalities, ITSS. We’re also hearing from public safety Canada.”


Efforts were underway Thursday to move a homeless encampment near a downtown Charlottetown college to another site, while plans for more substantial shelters are in the works.


NEW BRUNSWICK


New Brunswick is preparing, too. Its emergency measures organization says the focus is on the southeastern part of the province.


There is concern about storm surges in the Shediac area and along the coast. NB Power says it’s anticipating impacts on the power grid, with 400 field crews ready to respond when outages might happen.


Bill Hogan, the province’s public safety minister, says his department is ready to help other Maritime provinces, should assistance be needed.


“We’re prepared to deploy into Nova Scotia to help those folks out,” said Hogan. “We’re all Maritimers, we act as Maritimers, and we want to help each other out when we can.”


Hogan is reminding central and northern residents of New Brunswick not to underestimate the storm — especially as Fiona’s path could change in the next 24 to 48 hours.


STORM STOCK UP


Across the region, grocery stores, hardware stores and gas stations are experiencing a run on essential items.


Denika Coakley was in junior high when Hurricane Juan ripped through Nova Scotia in 2003. Now, she’s preparing to ride out this storm a family of her own.


“You’ve got to have your storm chips. But you can have easy access meals, and things that don’t really need to be baked in a stove, so sandwiches, bread that kind of thing,” Coakley said, loading groceries in her truck. 


As the Coakleys prepare to face Fiona, others are getting out while they can.


Halifax Stanfield International Airport spokesperson Tiffany Chase is reminding passengers to check with their airline before heading to the airport, hoping to change their flight.


“At this point, we understand that airlines are adding some additional flights,” said Chase. “It’s unlikely that they would be looking at leaving equipment here at the airport. For example, they would want to move as much of that as possible away from this region until the storm passes.”


With files from CTV’s Jesse Thomas, Ryan MacDonald, Kyle Moore, Jonathan MacInnis, Laura Brown and Jack Morse.

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