Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to get military's help in Fiona cleanup

Nova Scotia will be receiving federal assistance for power restoration and cleanup efforts after Fiona.

Request by the province for federal disaster funds has also been approved

A contractor uses a chainsaw to clear a downed tree on a residential street in North Sydney, N.S. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A request by Nova Scotia for the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces to help with restoring power and cleanup efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona has been approved.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa has also approved Nova Scotia's request for funding for disaster assistance to help municipalities repair damaged infrastructure, and to assist individuals and small businesses pay for uninsured losses.

"Fiona is the most significant rain and wind event Nova Scotia has seen in close to 20 years," John Lohr, minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office said in the release. 

"Through past experiences with storms like Dorian, we know the military makes a real difference in how quickly we can get trees cut and removed, debris cleared and power restored."

Cape Breton badly hit

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Victoria County have declared a state of local emergency, as post-tropical storm Fiona has knocked out power to thousands, roads are closed by fallen trees and buildings are damaged.

Officials are asking residents to shelter in place, and if their shelter fails, they should call 911.

"Do not venture out onto the roads," said regional municipality spokesperson Christina Lamey. "There are lots of power lines down and trees down. The roadways are a hazard at this time."

According to CBRM mayor Amanda McDougall, more than  200 people in the municipality have been displaced from their homes by the storm.

McDougall said the Canadian Red Cross was in the process of moving people from Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., to the Coast Guard College and Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.

McDougall said while the military will assist with transporting people to the centre, their main job will be debris removal.

Downed trees and tree limbs in Sydney, N.S., have brought down wires throughout the city. (Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

Cape Breton regional police say more than 70 roads in the municipality are impassable, including all of the main roads. The entire four-lane highway between Sydney and Glace Bay is cut off just before the entrance to the J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport, with power poles covering two lanes and wires covering the other two.

Because of unsafe conditions, the Cabot Trail is closed in multiple areas:

  • Warren Lake.
  • From Neils Harbour to Ingonish (Still Brook).
  • French Mountain.
  • At the Cape Breton Highlands National Park's west entrance just north of Chéticamp.

Robie Gourd, asset manager for Parks Canada in Cape Breton, said it's too early to tell the damage at park sites across the island, but northern Cape Breton is seeing high water from storm surge, as well as rocks "the size of toasters and TVs" and debris on roads.

The storm has left more than 402,000 customers in the province without power. 

Eskasoni assessing damage

Officials in Eskasoni are still assessing damage caused by the Fiona, according to Chief Leroy Denny.

Denny said many many homes lost singles and siding and there are reports of flooded basements.

He said a few people may have to be evacuated from their homes.

Some electrical wires were dangling overhead or near overflowing rivers, he said, and they are having trouble getting in touch with  Nova Scotia Power to remove them.

Denny said comfort centres will be opened at the Sarah D. Centre; Elder centre and Gabriel centre at the church at 6 p.m. for community members to get something to eat or recharge their phones.

No deaths or serious injuries

Nova Scotia RCMP said in a news release Saturday afternoon there were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries as a result of the storm.

According to the release,  RCMP officers in the province responded to hundreds of calls with most related to  wellbeing checks, stranded motorists, downed power lines, downed trees, washed out roads and debris on roadways.

Cell service down

Cellular service has also been affected by Fiona, with many residents throughout the province reporting they are not able to use phones or the internet.

In a tweet, the telecom Rogers said it is aware of power outages affecting the region, and that crews will work quickly to get services up and running.

Bell Aliant said in a tweet that numerous wireline and cell sites have been affected by outages, and that as backup battery power depletes, teams will activate generators.

A tree has completely blocked Seaview Drive in North Sydney, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

The fire chief in North Sydney, Lloyd MacIntosh, said early Saturday there's been a lot of damage in the community.

"Every intersection, every block of North Sydney is filled with trees. Trees have come down on homes, trees have come down on cars, there's buildings that have collapsed and there's quite a bit of damages.

"The daylight will bring quite a few surprises for a few people."

  • CBC Radio is providing live updates on Hurricane Fiona around the clock. Listeners are invited to call in to share their storm experiences and any emergency updates from their communities at 1-800-565-5550. Listen online via CBC Lite, which uses less data, or over the air (90.5 FM in Halifax, 92.1 FM in Sydney, 96.1 FM in Charlottetown or check your local frequency here).

MacIntosh spoke with CBC News as he was transporting a woman from her home to a safe location after the roof blew off her house.

"We pulled up, well, literally half of the roof was gone," MacIntosh said. "It's been an adventurous night to say the least."

In Glace Bay, the roof blew completely off a car wash and ended up in the neighbour's yard and the cinder block walls have crumbled. The roof at Oceanview Education Centre has also partly blown off.

The roof of a car wash in Glace Bay completely blew off during the storm. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Roof torn off 'like a Band-Aid'

In the Halifax Regional Municipality, many trees were felled and buildings were damaged as the wind howled and rain lashed the area.

Mayor Savage said it was a "wild night" in the municipality, adding that the roof of one apartment building in Halifax caved in, and 100 people were brought to a comfort centre.

In Bayside, N.S., the storm awakened Andrea Hiyer at 3 a.m.

"Huge bang, thought the barbecue was gone. Nope. Went outside, 40-foot-long pieces of our metal roof are flying off and landing on our deck," she said.

"It just ripped it off like a Band-Aid."

Hiyer said water has been pouring into her house, coming through the joints and making its way through all three floors of the building.

"I've been up since 3. I decided, hey, I'll call my insurance company. I got all that done, and now we're making some coffee."

Patrick Garagan of Fredericton went out on foot in search of coffee in Halifax, where he was visiting his daughter.

"The wind is something I just haven't seen before. The gusts just stop you in your tracks," he said.

Savage asked people to stay out of the way of crews who are working to clean up the damage, including municipal and provincial staff and crews with Nova Scotia Power and Halifax Water.

"I encourage people not to be dumb. You gotta let them do their work. You've got to take your pictures later," he said.

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