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Hurricane Fiona: As storm passes near Bermuda, Canadians on the Atlantic coast are on guard



CNN

A deadly hurricane that ravaged multiple island nations in the Caribbean this week is now hitting Bermuda before crashing into Canada this weekend, warning residents to prepare for dangerously high winds and heavy rainfall.

Officials in Bermuda, Canada’s Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are urging those in the storm’s path to be on high alert and prepare for the impact of Hurricane Fiona, which has already claimed the lives of at least five people. and the power has gone out for millions this week.

“Fiona is expected to be an important and historic weather event for Nova Scotia,” said John Lohr, the minister in charge of the provincial Emergency Management Office.

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“It could be very dangerous. The effects are expected to be felt across the province. Every Nova Scotia should prepare today,” Lohr added during an official update Thursday.

Residents should brace themselves for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall that could lead to extended power outages, Lohr said. Emergency services have encouraged people to secure outdoor items, cut down trees, charge cell phones and prepare a 72-hour emergency kit.

Fiona was downgraded to a powerful Category 3 storm early Friday as it passed near Bermuda during the night hours, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was sustained winds of 125 mph with stronger gusts, the center said.

The storm’s center was about 255 miles northwest of Bermuda and hurricane winds were felt across the island.

“Once Fiona has passed Bermuda, the storm is expected to hit Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon. Fiona will become extratropical before it hits, but this will do little to hinder the damage Fiona will cause,” explained CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.

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Across the Atlantic, Canada, winds could be around 100 mph (160 kph) when Fiona makes landfall in Nova Scotia, Shackelford said.

Bermuda, which is under a hurricane warning, closed schools and government buildings on Friday in preparation for the storm, according to Michael Weeks, the island’s secretary of national security.

In Canada, hurricane warnings are in place for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule and in Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois. Prince Edward Island and Isle-de-la-Madeleine are also warned.

Prince Edward Island officials are begging residents to prepare for the worst and hope for the best when the storm looms.

Tanya Mullally, the county’s chief of emergency management, said one of the most pressing concerns with Fiona is the historic storm surge that is expected to unleash.

“The storm surge barrier will certainly be significant. … Floods that we have not seen and cannot measure,” Mullally said during an update on Thursday.

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She added that the northern part of the island has been hit hardest by the storm due to wind direction, which is likely to cause property damage and coastal flooding.

Earlier this week, Fiona damaged homes and disrupted critical power and water infrastructure for millions of people in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos.

Days after Puerto Rico suffered an island-wide blackout when Fiona made landfall on Sunday, only 38% of customers had their power restored on Thursday, according to utility grid operator LUMA Energy.

The massive power outage is happening in much of Puerto Rico enduring extreme heat, leaving temperatures as high as 112 degrees on Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Daniel Hernández, director of sustainable projects at LUMA, explained that critical places, including hospitals, will be prioritized before repairs can begin on an individual level.

“This is a normal process. The important thing is that everyone is calm… we are working to ensure that 100% of customers have service as soon as possible,” said Hernández.

Nearly 360,000 customers experienced intermittent or no service at all on Thursday night, according to the government’s emergency portal system.

According to Puerto Rico’s Housing Secretary William Rodriguez, more than 800 people were housed in dozens of shelters across the island on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for the US territory, FEMA said. The move will give residents access to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses.

In the Dominican Republic, Fiona affected 8,708 households and destroyed 2,262 homes, according to the country’s head of emergency operations, Major General Juan Méndez García.

He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in darkness as of Thursday morning and another 725,246 customers were without running water.

“This was something incredible that we’ve never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español this week. ‘We are on the street with nothing, no food, no shoes, no clothes, just what you have on your back. … We have nothing. We have God and the hopeful help will come.”

Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, and parts of British territory were still without power earlier this week, namely Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, acting governor of the islands.

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