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Weather-weary Maritimers clean up after post-tropical storm Lee

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A person walks near a downed tree following Post-Tropical Storm Lee in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on September 17.John Morris/Reuters

Post-Tropical Storm Lee hit the Maritimes this weekend, flooding coastal roads and uprooting trees, while power was still out for tens of thousands of residents.

As authorities assessed the damage caused by the first major storm of the hurricane season on Sunday, many were still in the dark, and there was a general sense of natural disaster fatigue among Nova Scotians following the wildfires historical events of the province in the spring and the deadly floods of the summer.

“You start to feel the exhaustion of dealing with all the preparation, living without electricity, all the expenses and cleaning, and oh, I can’t wait to see our electricity rates go up again because it’s is another major storm,” said Leitha Haysom, a councilor for the Lunenburg District Municipality in southwest Nova Scotia, has been without power since 3 a.m. Saturday.

“This is the future we envision – with constant storms and emergencies.”

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A crew from the City of Fredericton Parks and Trees Division cleans up trees and branches damaged by Post-Tropical Storm Lee on September 17.Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press

Saturday’s storm left a trail of downed trees and damaged coastlines and infrastructure from crashing waves. About 277,000 customers in Nova Scotia and 90,000 in New Brunswick were affected by power outages. As of Sunday afternoon, 38,000 customers in Nova Scotia and 4,000 in New Brunswick were still waiting to be restored.

Some coastal routes were closed due to washouts and impassable conditions in Nova Scotia, while flights resumed Sunday at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

In photos: Post-tropical storm Lee heads towards the Maritimes

Post-tropical storm Lee makes landfall in the Maritimes with flooded roads, downed trees and power outages

Along the southwest coast of Nova Scotia, a powerful storm surge tossed rocks out of the ocean and damaged roads in Petite Rivière, Green Bay and Crescent Beach. The infrastructure of the popular Rissers Beach Provincial Park was destroyed.

In New Brunswick, emergency officials spent Sunday assessing the impact of the storm.

“Thank you to the many New Brunswickers who have taken steps to prepare and stay safe,” said Kyle Leavitt, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, in a statement. “We also encourage residents to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly, who may need assistance.

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Richard Ames, New Brunswick Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, examines the collapse of Highway 102 just outside Fredericton on September 17.Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press

In the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton areas, crews worked to clear roads of trees and debris. Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers said about 50 trees fell on power lines, causing widespread power and internet outages. Heavy rains washed out a main road, affecting traffic out of town, and residents faced flooded basements and overflowing cesspools into their yards.

But Ms. Rogers noted that the city is better prepared after recently installing oversized pipes in its sewer system to handle heavier rainfall and mitigate some of the runoff.

“We are heartened in the sense that we have seen the benefits of the work we have done to create resilience in the face of these significant climate changes,” she said. “The good thing is that it could have been worse. Overall, we did pretty well.

In St. Andrews, New Brunswick, where the eye of the storm was predicted to hit, the sound of chainsaws echoed throughout the town as residents picked up debris Sunday.

“People are relieved,” Mayor Brad Henderson said, adding that most of the damage was downed trees, a bent flagpole and local signage. “It moved a little further east at the last minute, but there were still very, very strong winds.”

NB Power wrote in a news release Sunday that outage restoration work would continue over the coming days.

About 800 people working for Nova Scotia Power spent Sunday repairing lines across the province and assessing the damage. The private utility said western Nova Scotia and the Halifax area were hardest hit, along with Truro and New Glasgow in the province’s northeast.

Nova Scotia Power used helicopters and drones to patrol power lines as well as foot patrols.

“Significant winds affected the province for almost 24 hours, with winds reaching more than 90 km/h in most areas,” the utility said in a statement. statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Roads have been blocked by trees, making it difficult for our teams to access the affected areas. »

Around Halifax, the hum of generators could be heard as homeowners cleared leaves, branches and sticks from their yards, while many traffic lights remained out Sunday afternoon.

In rural Nova Scotia, many people rely on wells for their water and do not have access to them during a power outage. In Lunenburg County, where 18,000 people were still without power as of Sunday afternoon, the estimated time of restoration was listed as 11 p.m. Monday on the Nova Scotia Power website.

Many felt storm-weary because they had no showers and had to buy drinking water and charge their devices at community centers, Ms. Haysom said. The councilor spent the day traveling around to check on her constituents and assess the damage.

People are tired of trying to survive power outages while losing all the food in their refrigerator at a time when groceries are so expensive, she added.

“We’re just not equipped to deal with prolonged power outages anymore,” said Ms. Haysom, who spent $900 this weekend on a new generator after her old one was abandoned. “You know, over and over again, we just can’t handle the power outages.”

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