Preparing early: Prince Edward Island getting ready to face Fiona's wrath

·6 min read
Preparing early: Prince Edward Island getting ready to face Fiona's wrath

Prince Edward Island is in a whirlwind of preparations in advance of Fiona's arrival.

Islanders are stocking up on essentials to last them through the storm and the power outages it may leave behind. They're ridding their yards of lawn furniture and anything else that could turn into a windborne hazard.

And as parks and marinas empty out, people who had been living in temporary encampments are being moved to emergency shelters.

The P.E.I. government now has two shelters for those living on the streets or in encampments.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

In a Thursday interview with Island Morning, Social Development and Housing Minister Matthew MacKay confirmed a shelter will be set up at the St. Eleanor's Community Centre at 1 West Dr. in Summerside, in addition to the shelter announced Wednesday at Jack Blanchard Hall, located at 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.

The shelters will be available through Sunday, Sept. 25.

"These are our family, these are our friends," said MacKay. "These are human beings on the street that are fighting for their lives. So we all have a part to play."

The Salvation Army said it's working with the government and other social services agencies to help staff Charlottetown's pop-up shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

CBC
CBC

"We will continue to work closely with all our partners including emergency management groups, to determine what more is needed and how we can assist further," said Lt. Gina Haggett.

Parks Canada readies P.E.I. National Park

Parks Canada staff have been preparing for Hurricane Fiona's impact on P.E.I. National Park.

To protect park infrastructure, they have taken up the staircases and ramps that lead to the beaches. The safety of both visitors and employees has been the top concern, though.

Submitted by Charlie Ross
Submitted by Charlie Ross

As of Thursday, both Stanhope and Cavendish campgrounds had been emptied out and gated off to make sure nobody enters the area.

"We've made sure to take a look around our parks, and anything that can be blown around — such as garbage cans, construction materials from projects we're working on — they've all been stored inside," said Robyn Caissie, visitor safety and fire operations co-ordinator for Parks Canada on P.E.I.

"We've taken note of any potential trees that might be an issue during the storm, with the high winds." Caissie added.

During tropical storm Dorian in September 2019, about 80 per cent of the trees at the P.E.I. National Park's Cavendish site came down.

Marinas being evacuated

Managers at The Marinas of Charlottetown are calling for volunteers to help move boats and infrastructure after issuing a mandatory evacuation order for the Seaport Marina and an evacuation of Peakes Quay Marina except for limited authorized areas.

CBC
CBC

"We are doing our best to accommodate the risk to the marina infrastructure and our boaters' assets," said a statement issued on Thursday.

The marinas must be cleared of boats by noon AT on Friday.

It was busy at the Montague Harbour on Thursday too.

"Just getting my boat ready to get hauled out sometime today," said Tyson Orsatti, who fishes out of the harbour. "Boat hauler's pretty busy today."

CBC
CBC

At a construction site in Montague, a carpentry crew was taking no chances and had a pretty clear strategy: If it's not nailed down, it's not staying outside.

"It's just a lot of styrofoam, so that'll go away in no time," said Spencer Gillis. "And if it isn't nailed down, it will just blow away, especially if we get the 135-kilometre-per-hour winds they're calling for."

Stock up and clean up

Meanwhile, Islanders are being advised to review their emergency plans.

The province has said people should replenish their emergency preparedness kits, and include provisions such as non-perishable food, water, and heat and fuel supplies that will sustain their household for five days if needed.

It said people should preferably get the supplies they need before Friday, when winds are expected to start picking up.

"Make sure you have supplies for three to five days. Charge your devices. Keep things that you'll need together in one place so they're easy to find. Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and practise safe fire-precaution actions in your home," said Darlene Compton, the province's minister of justice and public safety.

She also encouraged Islanders to check on friends and neighbours, to ensure they're also ready for the coming storm.

Province of P.E.I.
Province of P.E.I.

It's clear Islanders are taking the advice from officials seriously. At stores across P.E.I. on Thursday, people were stocking up on supplies in advance of the storm.

"We had a busy few days selling flashlights and batteries, propane heaters and a lot of generators have gone out," said Melody Beck, manager of Stewart and Beck Home Hardware in Montague.

The City of Charlottetown said a 72-hour emergency kit should include:

  • A supply of water for between three and seven days

  • Non-perishable food

  • A freshly stocked first aid kit

  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines

  • Formula, diapers and other baby supplies, if needed

  • A manual can opener

  • Toiletries

  • Battery-powered radios and flashlights with extra batteries

  • Blankets and a change of clothing for each household member (in case of a need to relocate from your home)

  • Candles and matches or a lighter

  • Cash

  • A charged cell phone

The city also said people should secure loose objects outside their homes that could be damaged or become dangerous projectiles during extremely high winds.

It encouraged people to have a device that can receive updates from emergency personnel officials without needing an electricity source, citing as an example a hand-crank radio.

CBC
CBC

A news release from Charlottetown city officials said to report a water main break, fire hydrant issues, a sewer backup, or missing utility hole covers, you should contact the Water and Sewer Utility at 902-629-4014 during regular business hours. After business hours, the contact number is 902-626-2100.

To report a clogged catch basin, a downed tree or branch, or issues with City of Charlottetown infrastructure, contact Public Works at 902-894-5208 during regular business hours, or 902-629-6916 outside those hours.

All other emergency matters should be directed to 911.

Charlottetown residents are also being asked to sign up with the Charlottetown Alert System. Information on that can be found on the city's website.

The province recommends that all Islanders check their smoke alarms, unclog their gutters to prevent flooding, and if they can, call in crews to remove any overhanging branches of trees near power lines ahead of the landfall.