PORT AUX BASQUES, Newfoundland, September 26 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to visit storm-ravaged eastern Canadian provinces as early as this week as thousands of residents were still without power more two days after Storm Fiona swept homes into the sea and left at least one dead.
Fiona was one of the worst storms to hit Canada, and government officials said it could take months before infrastructure can be fully restored. The military has been sent to Nova Scotia to help with rescue and cleanup efforts, while other affected provinces including Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island are being offered federal assistance.
“The storm has passed…and the scale of the damage means people are still going through a tough time,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, adding there will be a lot of work to do in the days and months. coming to clean and rebuild.
“I will visit the affected areas as soon as possible this week,” he added.
He was speaking hours after meeting with a contingent of Hydro Ottawa employees before they left for Nova Scotia, where about 175,000 customers, or about 33% of total customers, are without power.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced more than C$40 million ($29.1 million) in support to help those affected by Fiona, including C$100 to households who have lost electricity for more than 48 hours and C$250 to households who have to pay for the tree or debris removal.
“Nova Scotians were prepared for 72 hours without power…but many weren’t ready for the extended issues we see beyond 72 hours,” Houston said during a briefing.
About 1,000 workers were on the ground with more coming to help restore power, said Nova Scotia Power storm manager Matt Drover.
“This is the largest mobilization we’ve done in the history of our company,” Drover said during a briefing.
Fiona has also rammed into Canada’s fishing and farming industries, destroying docks, food processing plants and barns that will take months to repair.
The lack of electricity led to long lines to refuel at operating stations, footage showed on social media, forcing the closure of many public schools and government offices on Monday.
Port aux Basques in Newfoundland was one of the hardest hit by the storm, and Mayor Brian Button described the situation “like an all-out war zone.” More than 20 houses have been destroyed and more than 200 people need shelter. The damage cost “is in the millions here now,” Button told Reuters on Sunday.
“The images do not depict the utter devastation in this area,” said Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings. “I was on the pitch this morning and it’s heartbreaking and heartbreaking.” ($1 = 1.3732 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by John Morris; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)