Maritime storm claims 2 lives

A winter storm pummelled the Maritimes over the weekend, claiming the lives of at least two people.
Fredericton-area residents were still digging out on Sunday. ((CBC))
A winter storm pummelled the Maritimes over the weekend, claiming the lives of at least two people.

A 54-year-old man in Three Fathom Harbour, N.S., is believed to have succumbed to carbon monoxide fumes Sunday from a generator used for heat during a power outage and a woman died in Stratford, P.E.I., after being struck in a parking lot by a snow-removal vehicle.

The heavy snowfall, freezing rain, rain and high winds knocked out power to about 45,000 customers and left behind damage from a punishing storm surge in several coastal communities.

Port Elgin, N.B., was forced to declare a state of emergency Saturday night due to flooding and evacuated some residents by boats and tractors.

In Northport, P.E.I., the tin roof of a waterfront restaurant, The Boat Shop Steak & Seafood Restaurant, was "peeled back like a banana" and debris was blown about 500 metres, the owner said.

The storm also wreaked havoc on travel, making roads treacherous and causing flight cancellations and delays.

And it's expected to continue into Monday in some areas, although Environment Canada cancelled its snowfall, rainfall and storm surge warnings for the region by Sunday night.

"The storm is not quite over yet," said CBC meteorologist Trevor Adams.

Saint John-area residents faced plenty of shovelling on Saturday. ((Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC))
"The centre of low pressure is situated back toward the Gulf of Maine and the storm is expected to move towards the north. That means it's going to cross New Brunswick, so it's still storming there and it's going to continue through a good part of the day, overnight tonight, and through tomorrow," he said.

Parts of New Brunswick were expected to get up to another 60 centimetres of snow Sunday, along with high winds, according to Environment Canada.

Nova Scotia was to see primarily rain, with the exception of the Highlands, which had up to another 25 centimetres of snow in the forecast. Several parts of the province were also still under a storm surge warning for most of the day.

"The combination of a run of high astronomical high tides, generally low atmospheric pressure and, over Chaleur-Miscou region, large pounding waves could lead to local coastal flooding and some damage to infrastructure near the shoreline," the website stated.

In P.E.I., the entire province was under a similar storm surge warning after flooding forced the closure of Water Street in Charlottetown, caused damage to waterfront businesses in Summerside and left the wharf at Nine Mile Creek in South Shore under more than a metre of water. The warning was later lifted.

State of emergency

Port Elgin, N.B., remained under a state of emergency on Sunday. ((Courtesy Amy Cormier))
The small coastal community of Port Elgin, N.B., which declared a state of emergency Saturday night after tidal storm surges flooded several streets and homes in the area, was still under a state of emergency into Sunday afternoon.

Terry Murphy, co-ordinator of emergency measures in the town, said he has never seen a storm cause so much damage in such a short amount of time.

"It's flooded Station Street in Port Elgin, some of Fort Street and we even had water in the centre of the village of Port Elgin," he said. "We had to block the roads until the tide receded. We had to evacuate people by boat and tractors."

Town officials made arrangements for the evacuees to spend the night at a local nursing home until the flood risk passed. As of Sunday morning, about 25 families were still unable to go back to their homes, said Murphy.

EMO officials warned the community to be prepared, but many families were caught off guard by the severity of the storm, he said.

Devastating damage

Mayor Judy Scott said the damage has been devastating.

"Well, I just drove down by the wharf and there's a big boat, it's a big cruise boat and it's just blowing all over the wharf. It's kinda like upside down.

"You know buildings of one fella, his building was [blown] over and one of his pets didn't get out. It's just been very tragic too."

Scott was also concerned about the safety of spectators who gathered Sunday afternoon because there were still several downed power lines.

"We have called the RCMP and they came right down and warned and told them get out of there. Not all listened … Actually, [the officer] was just in a while ago and was heading back out to tell them again, or arrest them 'cause it's not safe," she said.

Owners of summer homes were being asked to stay away until at least Sunday evening's high tide was over, Scott said.

About 50 kilometres away, storm surges during high tide also flooded the causeway, which connects the community of Pointe-du-Chêne with Shediac, leaving dozens of residents isolated.

Municipal officials expected the situation to improve Sunday.

Power outages

Meanwhile, thousands of Maritimers were still waiting for their power to be restored on Sunday.

In New Brunswick, more than 3,000 customers were without power as of 7 p.m., down from about 13,000 that morning. But it could be midnight before everyone's power is back on, said spokeswoman Heather MacLean.

Snow removal crews had a hard time keeping up with the heavy snowfall. ((CBC))
Treacherous road conditions may impede crews from heading into smaller communities, she said.

"They really are scattered around the province … Only a couple of areas have not been impacted or are without outages right now.

"Certainly down in the greater Moncton area we're seeing more there, as well as the Miramichi. So those are two areas definitely impacted with high winds and heavy wet snow."

Nova Scotia Power had all customers back on line by Sunday evening.

Maritime Electric officials in P.E.I. could not be reached for comment, but about 20,000 outages were reported during the storm's peak Saturday night when winds were gusting about 100 km/h.

Snowplow crews across the Maritimes also continued to dig out on Sunday.

"This is a bad one," said Mike Young, who operates a sidewalk plow for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"It's not so much the amount that fell, but the rain coming in, mixed in and then it freezes up again and then it starts snowing," he said. "So if it wasn't for all of those things then it would have been easy; like, everything's a struggle."