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Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Victoria County declare state of emergency

Saturday, September 24th 2022, 3:19 pm - Officials caution residents not to travel due to hazards of downed wires, trees

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."

Lamey said emergency crews have been responding to many calls around the municipality, including from people who have lost their roof or had trees crash into their house.

See also: 'Total devastation': Newfoundland town declares state of emergency due to Fiona

The Canadian Red Cross has opened a shelter at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., however it did not have any power on Saturday morning. Lamey said Centre 200 already has several families taking shelter because their homes were affected by the storm.

The municipality is planning to open additional comfort centres when local travel is safe.

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

Many 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.

Watch below: Fiona leaves P.E.I. property a disaster with trees down everywhere

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.

Related: What the science says about hurricanes and climate change

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) 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."

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

Watch below: Water rushes over N.B. coastline, flooding streets

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.

This article was originally published for CBC News.

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