Halifax, CBRM unveil shelter plans ahead of Hurricane Fiona's arrival

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Dorian, a post-tropical storm when it arrived in Nova Scotia in 2019, left a trail of destruction. (CBC - image credit)
Dorian, a post-tropical storm when it arrived in Nova Scotia in 2019, left a trail of destruction. (CBC - image credit)

The Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have revealed plans to help vulnerable people ride out Hurricane Fiona, a major storm headed toward the province.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the Mayor Mike Savage said the Dartmouth East Community Centre, along with Beacon House and the Church of St. Elizabeth Seton in Lower Sackville, N.S., would be open to offer shelter and food to unhoused people.

Savage said transportation would also be provided if people need help getting to those places.

He said Halifax's ground search and rescue team would be doing wellness checks during the hurricane "for anybody who chooses not to leave a designated outdoor sheltering location or an encampment."

Erica Fleck, the assistant chief of emergency management for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said it would start moving people to shelters around 4 p.m. on Friday.

"We can't force people to take help if they wish not," Savage said. "We really encourage people, particularly those who are homeless, to come in under shelter during this storm because the threat to their life is very severe."

Halifax-area evacuation shelters

Savage said the city is working to identify places that could become comfort stations. He said those stations will open once the storm has passed.

Savage said people living near the coast must be prepared to evacuate on short notice and to "pay close attention to possible evacuation orders."

Evacuation centres for the Halifax region are being opened at the following locations:

  • Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Drive, Halifax.

  • Acadia Centre, 636 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville.

  • St Margaret's Centre, 12 Westwood Blvd., Upper Tantallon.

  • Musquodoboit Harbour Community Centre, 7900 Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour.

A press release from the city indicated these locations will be open starting at 8 p.m. on Friday. The evacuation centres will remain open until the storm passes, or as needed. The city may open more locations if needed.

Cape Breton is in the direct path of the storm and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said the impacts are "going to be large and they're going to be real and immediate."

"Right now our community homeless shelter does have space," McDougall said. "They also have an extreme weather centre that will be opened and engaged as well."

McDougall said the Canadian Red Cross and the Salvation Army have stepped up to help the Ally Centre of Cape Breton with sheltering people.

There are talks underway in CBRM about opening pre-storm shelters for people "because we know there are different types of shelters that are not going to be able to withstand the winds, the flooding the way that other buildings may," McDougall said.

McDougall pointed to Dorian, a post-tropical storm when it arrived in Nova Scotia in 2019, where older homes in the area lost walls and roofs in the heavy wind. She said it's possible it could happen during Fiona and the municipality wants to be prepared.

"We're not saying that their homes are going to blow away, but we're saying we need to take every precaution because we've seen what happened last time," she said.

At the time of the news conference, McDougall said details on pre-storm shelters were being finalized. Places like Centre 200 are being considered, she said.

Other areas of Nova Scotia are also preparing shelters. An emergency storm shelter will be available to people in Amherst on Friday from 5 p.m. until Sunday at 8:30 a.m. the Amherst Lions Club (9 Electric Street).

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