Nova Scotia

Sydney airport reopens after heavy storm damage

Flights in and out of J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney, N.S., resumed Tuesday after being closed due to damage from post-tropical storm Fiona.

Main access road on Silver Dart Way was blocked by fallen poles

An Eastlink cable employee examines downed lines at the entrance to J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport late Sunday, 36 hours after post-tropical storm Fiona hit Cape Breton. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport reopened Tuesday afternoon after post-tropical storm Fiona knocked the Sydney, N.S., airport out of business. 

About a dozen fallen telecommunication lines had blocked the road into the airport, which meant flights were not operating at the Cape Breton airport due to concern for public safety. 

Fiona hit the airport hard, resulting in at least $1 million in damage, according to its CEO, although officials are still assessing the costs.

The terminal building's facade was damaged, along with a battered airport hangar.

"It's hard to say, but just the one hangar that looks like a complete loss, we're looking at north of a million for a structure like that, could be a couple of million, I'm not sure," said Mike MacKinnon, CEO of the Sydney Airport Authority.

The airport was running on electricity from a generator which meant technically flights could land and depart throughout.

"We can operate commercial flying on our backup systems, it's just the issue with the access to the airport through the main access road. That's what we're dealing with now," MacKinnon said earlier in the week. 

Fiona's winds and rains struck the regional airport in Sydney, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Crews removed the telecommunication lines by Tuesday. Flights to Toronto and Montreal were cancelled Monday, but the airport was back up and running midday Tuesday. 

Once flights were operational, MacKinnon said airlines were ready to send larger aircraft into Sydney to board extra passengers to clear up the backlog.

Cancelled flights

Insulation and debris litter the ground outside the airport in Sydney. (Matthew Moore)

David McCharles was supposed to fly out of Sydney on Saturday, but his flight was cancelled.

"Luckily enough, I was staying with my mother who was alone. So as a negative, it turned into a positive that I was able to be here during the storm with her," McCharles said. 

He's been helping his mother clear up seven or eight trees that had fallen on her property in Coxheath. 

McCharles is booked to fly back to Toronto on Tuesday night. He said Air Canada has been sending him updates. 

At the airport, MacKinnon was waiting for insurance adjusters to do a damage assessment. 

"As far as how much the damage will add up to, it's significant for sure," he said. "We probably won't have a number for a while."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Latimer is a reporter for CBC Nova Scotia based in Cape Breton. She's interested in all kinds of stories on the island. Ideas are welcome. You can reach her at emily.latimer@cbc.ca.

With files from Matthew Moore

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