NS emergency management officials hold news conference on Hurricane Fiona preparations

As Hurricane Fiona barrels toward Atlantic Canada with landfall expected later this week, officials across the province are preparing for the storm and urging residents to do the same.

Representatives from the provincial Emergency Management Office, Nova Scotia Power, Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the Canadian Red Cross held a news conference about preparations Wednesday.

The storm is expected to bring strong winds, heavy rain and storm surges, and could result in power outages, flooding and serious damage.

The Emergency Management Office is asking people to prepare for Fiona by:

  • Having enough food and water to last 72 hours.
  • Securing any objects that can be blown around by wind.
  • Moving watercraft to high ground.
  • Filling vehicles with gas and parking them away from trees.
  • Keeping pets indoors.
  • Checking radio batteries and flashlights.
  • Checking in on neighbors.

Support for homeless

Some help will be available for people who do not have access to secure housing.

Bruce MacDonald, the emergency management lead for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said the homeless shelter in Sydney will be available, and has the ability to expand into an extreme weather center in the facility’s basement if needed.

“We will look at anything else we can provide additional supports as required,” MacDonald said during the news conference.

This satellite image from late Wednesday morning shows Hurricane Fiona, at the bottom, centerd over the Turks and Caicos. (National Hurricane Center)

Ancel Langille, a senior manager with the Canadian Red Cross, said when the organization opens a shelter on behalf of a province or municipality, it is open to anyone.

“We don’t close the doors to anyone who needs support,” he said. “So if there is a shelter open in a municipality where anyone is because they’ve had to come out their home, our services will be available to anyone that shows up.”

Maggie-Jane Spray, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality, said staff are reviewing options for those who are living at designated shelter locations and other sites, and that more information would be released soon.

Telecom prep

After Hurricane Dorian, many people went without cellphone and internet service for days after the storm knocked out power to cellphone towers, and the backup batteries for wireless sites eventually drained.

The situation prompted then premier Stephen McNeil to say telecommunications companies Should join the province’s emergency operations team During major storms to ensure services disruptions are minimized.

Jason Mew of the Emergency Management Office said the province has been in contact with Bell, Eastlink and Rogers to identify who will be working with the province in the co-ordination center during the storm. “We believe they’ll be fully engaged,” Mew said.

The provincial Emergency Management Office says it is working with Bell, Rogers and Eastlink to co-ordinate storm preparations. (CBC)

In a statement to CBC News, Bell said the company is already in contact with the province, EMO and Nova Scotia Power and will work closely with them to keep customers connected.

During power outputs, if backup batteries run out, Bell activates generators to keep sites up and running.

The company says it has already activated its internal emergency response process and crews are fueling generators and checking up on sites.

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