Storm-hardened western Newfoundland braces for a possible Hurricane Fiona landfall

·3 min read
Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are hunkering down in anticipation of Hurricane Fiona. (Submitted by Alick Tsui - image credit)
Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are hunkering down in anticipation of Hurricane Fiona. (Submitted by Alick Tsui - image credit)
Submitted by Alick Tsui
Submitted by Alick Tsui

Residents and communities in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are preparing for a big storm expected to blow through the province this weekend.

Hurricane Fiona, the first major category hurricane of the season, is tracking toward the Atlantic provinces, having already swept over Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, leaving catastrophic damage in its wake.

On Newfoundland's southwest coast, which could take the brunt of the storm, Ramea Mayor Ian Stewart said residents are already tying down their property. It's not an unusual thing for them, he said, as they've been through many storms before.

"Being out in the middle of the ocean, we really do have to monitor that and prepare as much as we can for it," he said Tuesday.

"Most of the residents, they're watching the forecast most of the time."

Stewart said there has been a noticeable increase in storms and their intensity in recent years but the island community has fared well so far with minimal disruptions to its power, which is supplied by its own diesel generator.

In Corner Brook, on Newfoundland's west coast, Mayor Jim Parsons said the usual precautions are being taken for extreme weather.

Sandbags are being filled, catch basins being cleared and trees are being trimmed in anticipation of the hurricane-force winds expected to swirl through.

"Our crew is well seasoned when it comes to dealing with lots of rain or lots of wind," Parsons said.

"We'll have people stationed in different parts of the city, in known trouble areas, and a lot of people on call, of course, ready to spring into action as we see problems develop."

National Hurricane Center
National Hurricane Center

Preparing at home

While it's still too soon to predict Fiona's track and intensity, Jillian Mullowney of the Canadian Red Cross in Atlantic Canada said there are things people can do at home to prepare for whatever may come.

"It's fairly easy to have an emergency kit put together in your house ready to go. Most people already have the majority of things you would need in an emergency kit in their house, it's just scattered," Mullowney said.

"It's just taking time to think about what you need for 72 hours and go through your house and put everything in one location."

That includes having shelf-stable food, water, medications, clothing, blankets and safe heating sources at the ready.

"The more people who are able to better prepare themselves, the more emergency services can focus on vulnerable folks who aren't able to make those preparations," she said.

Outside the home, Mullowney said, it's a good idea to put away or tie down any loose items, such as patio furniture or barbecues, and clear away brush.

She said it's also a good idea to keep in contact with neighbours.

The Canadian Red Cross has a hurricane-preparedness link on its website with tips on what to do before, during and after a storm.

The provincial government is making its own preparations.

In a media release Tuesday, the province's Department of Justice and Public Safety said crews are checking and clearing culverts. The release said the public should check the provincial government's N.L. 511 app or website for road conditions and to review and have emergency plans in place.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador