'Rubble floating all over the place': Fiona sweeps away homes, knocks off power in eastern Canada

Fiona, now a post-tropical cyclone after a destructive run as a hurricane, has already washed away homes, toppled trees and left thousands without power in Atlantic Canada after the storm made landfall early Saturday.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre called Fiona a "historic storm for eastern Canada" and a "potential landmark weather event" in a region where hurricanes are rare. Many storms weaken when they reach colder waters.

Fiona is expected to continue to gradually weaken over the next few days.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and Canadian officials continue to assess the scope of the devastation. Fiona brought widespread power outages

More than 400,000 Nova Scotia Power customers had been affected by outages Saturday, the company reported.

As of Sunday evening, more than 211,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 81,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island were without power. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia Power was able to restore power to over 225,000 customers Sunday evening.

Ian Livingstone surveys the damage to his house from a fallen tree early in the morning in Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area.  Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.
Ian Livingstone surveys the damage to his house from a fallen tree early in the morning in Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.

Where is Fiona?

After making landfall in eastern Nova Scotia Saturday morning, Fiona moved north and over the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday evening. As of Sunday afternoon, the storm is departing the Labrador Sea.

Before passing through Bermuda on Friday, the storm devastated large swaths of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Officials in Bermuda reported no serious damage.

At least five people have died after Hurricane Fiona — two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.

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Georgina Scott surveys the damage on her street in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.  Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.
Georgina Scott surveys the damage on her street in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.

Storm washes homes away, collapses roofs

As Fiona ripped through Atlantic Canada, it washed away homes, toppled trees and power lines, and tore roofs off houses. One death was confirmed.

Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland, late Sunday afternoon.

Canadian police said the woman was last seen inside the residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement.

Brian Button, mayor of Channel-Port Aux Basques, said houses were already being washed away by floodwaters, and residents were fleeing to higher grounds.

"I’m seeing homes in the ocean," said René J. Roy, a resident of Channel-Port Aux Basques and chief editor at Wreckhouse Press. "I’m seeing rubble floating all over the place. It’s complete and utter destruction. There’s an apartment that is gone, that is literally just rubble."

A woman in Channel-Port Aux Basques was rescued after being "tossed into the water as her home collapsed," said Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, also said there were downed trees, torn-off roofs and debris scattered through roadways in her area. Mike Savage, mayor of Nova Scotia's capital, Halifax, told CNN that 100 people were displaced when an apartment roof collapsed.

Police in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island reported downed trees and posted photos of the damage on Twitter, including one that shows the roof of a home collapsed.

"Conditions are like nothing we've ever seen," the police department said on Twitter.

Fiona makes landfall in Canada

Fiona made landfall in Canada early Saturday morning with sustained winds of up to 100 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, according to AccuWeather.

AccuWeather meteorologists forecast Fiona may be "one of the strongest storms on record" in eastern Canada.

“This could be the storm of a lifetime for some people,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.

The storm is the "lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada," according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre. Typically, the farther barometric pressure drops, the stronger the storm will be.

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The storm was about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian, which pounded Canada in 2019, said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre. But Fiona was expected to be stronger.

"It’s certainly going to be an historic, extreme event for eastern Canada," Robichaud said.

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A lobster boat is seen grounded on the rocks at the wharf in Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island. After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
A lobster boat is seen grounded on the rocks at the wharf in Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island. After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.

Puerto Ricans furious over lack of power

Half of Puerto Rico was still without power more than five days after Hurricane Fiona struck, and Puerto Ricans were growing frustrated with the island's private electricity transmission and distribution company.

The situation was worsened by fuel disruptions that forced grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses to close.

Puerto Rico's power grid was already struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which razed the system in 2017.

HOW TO HELP: Mutual aid, nonprofits to support

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fiona sweeps away homes and knocks off power in eastern Canada