A deadly hurricane that battered multiple island nations in the Caribbean this week is now impacting Bermuda before crashing into Canada this weekend, where residents are being warned to prepare for dangerously high winds and heavy rainfall.
Officials in Bermuda as well as 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 shut off power for millions this week.
“Fiona is projected to be a significant and historical weather event for Nova Scotia,” said John Lohr, the minister responsible for the provincial Emergency Management Office.
“It has the potential to be very dangerous. Impacts are projected to be felt across the province. Every Nova Scotian should be preparing today,” Lohr added during an official update Thursday.
Residents should brace for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall that may lead to prolonged power outages, Lohr said. Emergency officials have encouraged people to secure outdoor items, trim trees, charge cell phones and create a 72-hour emergency kit.
Fiona is a powerful Category 4 storm but is on track to weaken slightly to a strong Category 3 as it passes near Bermuda during the overnight hours into Friday, CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
“Once Fiona passes by Bermuda, the storm is forecast to impact Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon. Fiona will become extratropical before impact, but this will do little to hinder the damage that Fiona will cause,” Shackelford explained.
Across Atlantic Canada, winds could be around 100 mph (160 kph) as Fiona makes landfall on Nova Scotia, Shackelford said.
The storm was packing sustained winds of 130 mph early Friday and was about 185 miles west of Bermuda and 1,000 miles south-southwest of Nova Scotia, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Bermuda, which is under a hurricane warning, closed schools and government offices Friday in preparation for the storm, according to Michael Weeks, the island’s minister 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 under warning.
Prince Edward Island officials are imploring residents to prepare for the worst and hope for the best as the storm looms.
Tanya Mullally, who serves as the province’s head of emergency management, said one of the most pressing concerns with Fiona is the historic storm surge it’s expected to unleash.
“Storm surge is certainly going to be significant. … Flooding that we have not seen nor can we measure against,” Mullally said Thursday during an update.
She added the northern portion of the island stands 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 upended critical power and water infrastructure for millions of people across Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos.
Days after Puerto Rico experienced an island-wide blackout as Fiona made landfall Sunday, only 38% of customers had their power restored Thursday, according to power grid operator LUMA Energy.
The mass power outage is happening as much of Puerto Rico endures extreme heat, which caused temperatures to feel as hot as 112 degrees Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Daniel Hernández, director of renewable projects at LUMA, explained 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,” Hernández said.
Nearly 360,000 customers were experiencing intermittent water service or no service at all as of Thursday evening, according to the government’s emergency portal system.
As of Wednesday, more than 800 people were housed in dozens of shelters across the island, according to Puerto Rico’s housing secretary, William Rodriguez.
President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for the US territory, FEMA 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 affected 8,708 households and destroyed 2,262 homes, according to the nation’s head of emergency operations, Maj. Gen. Juan Méndez García.
He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in the dark 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’re in the streets with nothing, no food, no shoes, clothes, just what’s on your back. … We don’t have anything. We have God, and the hope help will come.”
Fiona also menaced parts of the Turks and Caicos Tuesday, and areas of the British territory were still without power earlier this week, namely on Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, acting governor of the islands.