Hurricane Fiona: Nova Scotians prepare to hunker down

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It’s the literal calm before the storm in Nova Scotia and residents are stocking up on essentials as Hurricane Fiona barrels towards the province.

Fiona is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds sometime early Saturday morning. For Sydney, N.S. resident Terry Drohan, his home happens to be on Cape Breton Island — where the centre of the storm is expected to hit.

“I think we’re, you know, extremely anxious and filled with trepidation and concerns about what the future is going to bring here,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

Drohan said he picked up a second sump pump to make sure his basement doesn’t flood and has extra gasoline for his generator, as widespread power outages in the province are expected.

“Flood preparation is something I’ve been doing on an annual basis but I think this storm is of concern to the entire region with the heavy winds and older trees — large, large trees — that are around,” he said.

Environment Canada has issued tropical storm or hurricane warnings for the entirety of Nova Scotia and P.E.I., as well as much of Newfoundland, New Brunswick and parts of eastern Quebec. On Cape Breton Island, the agency is forecasting rainfall upwards of 200 millimetres as well as hurricane-force gusting winds up to 160 km/h.

“It’s inevitable that our area of the city is going to be is going to be flooded,” Drohan said. “It’s guaranteed that we’re going to have, you know, devastating flooding in the heart of the city. But like I said, the additional concern with this particular storm are the high winds and in the downtown area of our city.”

It’s not the first time Drohan has had to deal for a mega storm. Seven years ago, his home was flooded after heavy rain and high winds pounded Cape Breton during the 2016 Thanksgiving Day storm. Drohan’s community was hit with another major flood again last November.

“There isn’t much you can do with Mother Nature. I mean, you know, you prepare for it. But you know, it’s always been proven that Mother Nature can twist and turn things,” he said. “It’s become a bit of an annual event that you just sort of prepare for it and keep your fingers crossed and hope that things go well.”

But not all Nova Scotians have a home to hunker down and weather the storm, and advocates are worried about the province’s most vulnerable residents.

“If somebody has to evacuate a home because it’s not safe, then we have to help homeless people as well,” Vicky Levack of the PADS Community Advocacy Network told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

In Halifax, Mayor Mike Savage told reporters in a media briefing that in addition to emergency evacuation shelters for the general public, there will also be two shelters specifically for homeless individuals with food available. But Levack is worried that it won’t be enough, given that the province is home to an estimated 1,000 unhoused individuals.

“You have to guarantee that when you promise things, when you say there will be food, when you say there will be dry clothing, when you say there will be beds, you have to make sure those things are actually there and there are enough for everybody,” she said.

“With this storm, because how serious it is, I think (the city) is doing what they think is their best, but we fear that it’s not going to be enough.”

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