Hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Canada are without power after Hurricane Fiona made landfall, causing buildings to be washed away and people to be evacuated.
After Fiona made landfall early Saturday morning, parts of eastern Canada’s maritime provinces have already been battered by winds of up to 94 miles per hour.
While sharing pictures of the damage and major flooding on social media, police in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, described the conditions as “like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
Speaking to CNN, Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the city suffered “severe damage” during a “wild night,” but that a more thorough assessment will be made once the winds have died down.
According to the CBC, more than 360,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power as of 3 a.m. Atlantic Daylight Time, with Maritime Electric and N.B. Power reporting that nearly 100,000 customers were also without power.
Communities in southwestern Newfoundland were also evacuated after some buildings in Port aux Basques were washed away.
The town’s mayor, Brian Button, described the situation as “total devastation.”
Social media videos showed strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding.
Forecasters feared Hurricane Fiona would be one of the most damaging storms to hit the United States before it made landfall early Saturday morning.
Meteorologist Bob Robichaud warned on Friday afternoon that Fiona will be stronger than Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
“It will undoubtedly be a historic, extreme event for Atlantic Canada,” Robichaud said.
Fiona, according to Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, will be “one of, if not the, most powerful” tropical cyclone to hit the eastern part of Canada.
“It’ll definitely be as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen,” Hubbard told the Associated Press.
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a warning that Fiona is “on her way to a bad one,” urging people to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
“Of course, we hope it will not be necessary, but we believe it will be. And we’ll be there to help. In the meantime, we urge everyone to remain safe, follow local authorities’ instructions, and persevere for the next 24 hours.”
Environment Canada said in their most recent update that more than 20 centimetres (7.8 inches) of rain could fall in areas close to Fiona’s path, with eastern Nova Scotia, southwestern Newfoundland, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region likely to see 10 to 20 centimetres of rain.
Heavy rain and gale force winds may also cause coastal flooding and surge waves along the east coast and in the Maritime provinces.
An emergency alert has been issued to residents of Prince Edward Island, warning them of the possibility of severe flooding along the province’s northern shore.
“Efforts should be made right away to protect belongings. Avoid the shorelines because the waves are extremely dangerous. Residents in those areas should be prepared to relocate if necessary “the alert stated.
Fiona has already knocked out power in large parts of Puerto Rico, prompting President Joe Biden to issue an emergency declaration to help alleviate the “hardship and suffering” caused by the natural disaster.