A deadly hurricane that hit several Caribbean island nations this week is now impacting Bermuda before crashing into Canada this weekend, where residents are warned to prepare for dangerously high winds and high rains.
Officials in Bermuda as well as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in Canada 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 knocked out power for millions this week.
“Fiona is expected to be a significant and historic weather event for Nova Scotia,” said John Lohr, minister responsible for the Provincial Emergency Management Office.
“He has the potential to be very dangerous. The impacts should be felt across the province. Every Nova Scotian should prepare today,” Lohr added in an official update Thursday.
Residents should prepare for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surges and heavy rains that can cause extended power outages, Lohr said. Emergency officials encouraged people to secure outdoor items, trim trees, charge cellphones and create a 72-hour emergency kit.
Fiona was downgraded to a powerful Category 3 storm early Friday as it passed near Bermuda overnight, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was whipping sustained winds at 125 mph with stronger gusts, the center said.
The center of the storm was about 155 miles northwest of Bermuda, and hurricane-force winds were being felt across the island.
“Once Fiona passes through Bermuda, the storm is expected to hit Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon. Fiona will go extratropical before impact, but that will do little to prevent the damage Fiona will cause,” explained CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.
Across Atlantic Canada, winds could be around 100 mph (160 km/h) as Fiona makes landfall in Nova Scotia, Shackelford said.
Bermuda, which is under a hurricane warning, closed schools and government offices on Friday ahead of the storm, according to Michael Weeks, the island’s national security minister.
In Canada, hurricane warnings are in place for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule and Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois. Prince Edward Island and Île-de-la-Madeleine are also under alert.
Prince Edward Island officials are pleading with residents to prepare for the worst and hope for the best as the storm looms.
Tanya Mullally, who serves as the province’s chief emergency officer, said one of the most pressing concerns with Fiona is the historic storm surge it is expected to unleash.
“The storm surge is definitely going to be significant. … Flooding that we haven’t seen and can’t measure,” Mullally said in an update Thursday.
She added that the northern part of the island is expected to bear the brunt of the storm due to the direction of the winds, which will likely 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 the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Days after Puerto Rico experienced an island-wide blackout as Fiona made landfall on Sunday, only 38% of customers regained power on Thursday, according to power grid operator LUMA Energy.
The massive power outage comes as much of Puerto Rico experiences extreme heat, which sent temperatures soaring to 112 degrees Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Daniel Hernández, director of renewable projects at LUMA, explained that critical locations, including hospitals, will be prioritized before repairs can begin at the individual level.
“It’s a normal process. The important thing is that everyone is calm… we are working to have 100% of customers served as soon as possible,” Hernández said.
Nearly 360,000 customers were experiencing intermittent water service or no service at all on Thursday night, according to the government’s emergency portal system.
As of Wednesday, more than 800 people were staying in dozens of shelters across the island, according to Puerto Rico Housing Secretary William Rodriguez.
President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for the US territory, FEMA has said. The move allows residents to access grants for temporary housing and home repairs as well as low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses.
In the Dominican Republic, Fiona has affected 8,708 households and destroyed 2,262 homes, according to the country’s emergency operations chief, Major General Juan Méndez García.
He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in the dark on Thursday morning and another 725,246 customers were without running water.
“It was something incredible that we had never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español this week. “We are on the streets with nothing, no food, no shoes, no clothes, just what’s on our backs. … We have nothing. We have God, and the help of hope will come.
Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, and areas of British territory were still without power earlier this week, including Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, Anya Williams said. acting governor of the islands.