Channel-Port aux Basques under state of emergency as Fiona sweeps houses out to sea
The town of Channel-Port aux Basques in Newfoundland is under a state of emergency as first responders cope with electrical fires, residential flooding, and washouts due to post-tropical storm Fiona.
According to the RCMP in the province, Fiona wreaked havoc Saturday on the small coastal town that sits on the far, southwestern tip of Newfoundland.
Residents have posted images and video on social media of apartment buildings being swept out to sea, roads flooded and homes crumbling. As of Saturday morning, residents in the entire East End Channel had been ordered to evacuate.
Around 11:30 a.m. local time, RCMP issued an advisory to residents, asking them to “refrain from risky behaviour,” including taking any pictures or video in areas of flooding.
“This is not safe. People are putting themselves and first responders at unnecessary risk,” RCMP said in the advisory posted to Twitter.
The town's mayor Brian Button says some houses have been washed away amid high winds and surging seas.
"A house can be replaced but you can't be, so you need to go and we've already had houses and things that have been washed away, so we need you to go now," Button said.
Newfoundland Power, which delivers electricity to 600 communities in the province, said in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday that “conditions have deteriorated quickly” in the Port aux Basque region, delaying their ability to respond to outages.
Environment Canada has multiple warnings for the region and predicts an additional 30 to 50 mm of rain is expected Saturday from Fiona, in addition to the 40 to 50 mm that was previously reported.
A wreckhouse wind warning is also in effect with winds expected to shift the southwest by early Saturday evening but “remain strong with widespread gusts to 110 km/h expected for a few hours before diminishing,” the weather agency said on its website.
Environment Canada also says heavy downpours are likely to cause flash floods and water pooling on roads in the region.
David Neil, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told CTV News Channel it’s expected wind and water levels will remain high in the province until Saturday evening.
“We’re still seeing very, very strong winds, especially in southwestern Newfoundland. We expect those winds to stay very strong through much of the day today and into tonight,” he said.
“Tides are coming down a little bit now, but we are expecting those water levels to stay quite high into the evening high tide as well,” he added.
Neil, who is in Gander, N.L., said the west and southwest coats will receive the worst of the winds.
However, they should gradually calm down as the storm tracks to the north, but water levels specifically along the south and west coasts will come up again in the evening, he said.
Compared to previous storms like Igor in 2010, Neil said Fiona is “significant” and one that will be talked about for “years to come.”
“We're not out of the woods yet,” he said.
Over in Channel-Port aux Basques, resident Trey Capnerhurst,who lives on the west side of the town, was weathering out the storm when they spoke to CTVNews.ca on Saturday morning. They said a two-storey apartment building “fell into the ocean” nearby.
“It was always perched on the edge of the ocean, and now it’s in the ocean,” Capnerhurst said in a telephone interview.
Capnerhurst says they live in a home that is retrofitted and remaining sturdy amid the weather, but noted other homes in the region were not built with hurricanes in mind.
“The ones across the way have only lost their porch, and on the other side, a whole house is in the middle of the street,” they said, adding that there is a lot of debris.
Capnerhurst said they moved a cupboard in front of their houses’ door so the wind doesn’t knock it down.
Capnerhurst’s area is not currently under an evacuation order. Capnerhurst said they are planning to wait out the storm in their house, away from the windows.
Looking outside, “you can literally see the water being thrown around by the wind, you can see it coming at you,” they said.
“I would not be out in this -- this is really dangerous,” they added.
With files from The Canadian Press