New Brunswick’s Minister of Public Safety said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by Post-Tropical Storm Fiona, but he expects help to be made available. affected residents.
Bill Hogan told CBC News Network there was a “significant” amount of coastal erosion and infrastructure damage along the province’s east coast.
“At the moment, we are still assessing the damage […] happened in the province, and then once we’re done, we’ll look at a [disaster financial assistance] program if needed,” Hogan said.
“I would suspect at this point that will be where we are headed, but we probably won’t know until later today or tomorrow.”
Hogan said the province has asked the federal government for help and Ottawa stands ready to help in any way possible.
NB EMO spokesman Geoffrey Downey said crews are assessing the damage and are starting to get a clearer picture.
He said downed trees and power lines still posed a hazard and warned people to stay away from affected areas.
“We always ask people to stay off the roads if possible,” Downey said.
“There are still debris, there are [roads] which are still closed. There are a lot of NB Power workers trying to get everyone back online. There’s no need to make it harder for everyone.”
“We are such a good community here”
The community of Pointe-du-Chêne near Shediac was hard hit. Homes near the ocean were flooded and electricity was cut for more than 24 hours.
The local community center has been converted into an emergency center, with food, water and a generator available for residents in need.
On Saturday, two trees fell on Peggy DeMerchant’s house, and one fell on her shed.
“I never thought it would be this bad because I live three blocks from the ocean. But it was scary,” she said.
On Sunday morning, DeMerchant was preparing food for other members of the community, especially those whose homes had been flooded.
“I brought everything I had in the fridge, in the freezer,” she said.
She said around 150 people dined at the center on Saturday night and the disaster brought people together.
“People were borrowing generators, people were letting their neighbors bring in their meat and produce…putting it in their freezers because we don’t want anyone losing anything,” she said.
“It’s been a tough few days, but we’re such a good community here. I wouldn’t leave.”
Jim Murray of Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, said the storm was unlike anything he had ever experienced, saying it dwarfed Hurricane Dorian, which hit the same area in 2019.
“Dorian was nothing to that,” Murray said.
“Seas coming in that I’ve never seen before. You had to stop. Just worse than any blizzard I’ve ever been in.”
Although his house remained intact, Murray said the bow of his lobster boat was broken and he is worried about what the storm will mean for the last two and a half weeks of the lobster season.
“I don’t know what a mess we have,” Murray said.
“In Dorian I lost 23 traps, but I had my gear in deeper water. This time I moved it to shallower water. Did that help? I don’t know not.”
Power cuts persist
As storm clouds passed over New Brunswick, the cleanup from Post-Tropical Storm Fiona has just begun.
Many people started Sunday morning in the dark. NB Power reported 13,330 customers without power as of 4:15 p.m.
The bulk of outages remain in the Shediac-Cap-Péle (5,285) and Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe (2,678) areas.
Dominique Couture, spokesperson for NB Power, said high winds overnight prevented some crews from accessing some power lines, hampering restoration progress.
Still, teams were able to reduce the number of customers without power from Friday night’s high of 95,000.
“Our teams continue to work hard to safely and efficiently restore power to all affected customers,” Couture said.
Call for the army
All three branches of the armed forces have been called in to help with the cleanup, according to the Department of National Defense.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said Saturday that forces at CFB Gagetown have been put on high alert to help, if needed.
“The Canadian Army’s Immediate Response Unit in Gagetown…has increased its ability to move on short notice and deploy as needed.
“[They] now begin the reconnaissance and prepare the preliminary movements to better understand where and what is needed.”
In a post on its Facebook page, the 5th Canadian Division, which is based at CFB Gagetown, said it was “preparing to respond” to the request for help.