Montana ranchers ride out storm in Saint John
Montana isn't exactly hurricane country, so for many of the passengers aboard a tour bus that stopped for lunch in Saint John on Saturday, it was a first.
"So far, it's been OK," said Kayrene Higgins.
Retired farmer Roger Muggli was actually looking forward to his first hurricane.
"Bring it on," he said.
Having worked on a farm his whole life, he's a keen weather watcher and a bit hardened to the elements. He was disappointed in the experience as post-tropical storm Lee headed for the Fundy Coast.
Montana tourists Kayrene Higgins and Roger Muggli pose with Captain Crunch, a 15-pound lobster at the Plank restaurant in Saint John. (Mia Urquhart/CBC)
As they headed out for Truro, N.S., Muggli said he hoped conditions would get a bit worse although he acknowledged that perhaps "I won't be talking like that tomorrow."
Bus driver and tour operator Danny Bishop was also unfazed by Lee.
"Well, a tropical storm is a blessing from a full-fledged hurricane," said Bishop, who has been living in Panama City, Fla.
He experienced hurricanes Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992, Agnes in 1995, Katrina in 2005, and Michael in 2018.
"And I couldn't count how many tropical storms," said Bishop. "We're really thankful when it lowers to the level of a tropical storm and is no longer considered a hurricane."
'A blizzard you don't have to shovel'
All the same, Bishop and his wife Judy, who run D&J Tours, kept an eye on Lee as they drove the bus from Florida to Boston, where they met the 39 tour passengers — most retired ranchers from Montana.
Bishop said he tried to reassure them at the outset that they wouldn't be in any danger.
"The best way I could explain it to them was, 'It's going to be a blizzard that you don't have to shovel.' So a lot of wind and a lot of rain, but nothing really that that we couldn't handle."
Bishop said if Lee had remained a category three or above, "then we would have changed our plans."
"Oftentimes, it's not quite as bad as expected, but it could just as easily be worse. So it's something, yeah, even in Florida, we take them seriously."
The Plank restaurant was also taking the warnings seriously, said Pat Vaughan, an owner of the restaurant overlooking the Reversing Falls.
He said they decided to close the restaurant on Saturday but then realized the bus tour was scheduled to arrive from Bangor at noon.
Vaughan confirmed decided to open just long enough to feed the passengers — plus a couple visiting from the United Kingdom, who had also never experienced a hurricane before.
Big waves in Bouctouche
Tara Douglas moved to Bouctouche, N.B. from Ontario in February so Lee is her first big storm in the province. (Bader Ben Amara/Radio-Canada)
Tara Douglas moved to the Bouctouche area with her family in February, so Lee is the first big storm she's experienced since arriving from Ontario.
Although emergency response officials asked people to stay away from the water, Douglas couldn't resist going down to the boardwalk to look at the big waves Saturday.
"That's definitely the highest we've seen [the tide] since we've been here," said Douglas.
She said she is a little scared about the possibility of her home flooding, since the rain has been causing water to pool around their property all week.
A look at the waves in Bouctouche on Saturday. (Bader Ben Amara/Radio-Canada)
Fundy Albert outages
Bob Rochon, the mayor of Fundy Albert, said things have been relatively calm for the municipality so far, but they are not letting their guard down yet.
He said there are some sporadic power outages, mainly between Hillsborough and Moncton.
"We'll be keeping an eye on that and making some decisions as far as charging centres, likely tomorrow morning," Rochon said.
There was some concern leading up to the storm about the community of Alma, a small community within Fundy Albert, because it is still under a boil water order.
But Rochon said last he checked, there were only four residents in Alma without power.
In St. Stephen, locals were quick to act when a centuries-old maple tree snapped and fell across Milltown Boulevard.
Doug Harper owns an exotic pet shop and was in the store when he heard a big loud crack. When he went out to see what happened, he saw a massive tree had fallen right beside his shop.
Harper said a young man then pulled up with a chainsaw and started cutting it up.
About six other residents came out and started helping with the work before the town came over to finish the job.
Residents emerged with chainsaws and chopped up a centuries-old maple tree that fell across Milltown Boulevard in St. Stephen. (Julia Wright/CBC)
"We got a little good community that sticks together when stuff like this happens," said Harper.
Traffic on Milltown Boulevard was being detoured.
Streets flooded in Fredericton
Heavy rain continues to come down in the capital city.
Extensive flooding is occurring in the area of the Regent Street and Montgomery Street intersection in Fredericton.
Extensive flooding at the Regent and Montgomery intersections didn't stop vehicles from driving through. (Ed Hunter/CBC)
Fredericton Fire was on scene.
Vehicles continued to drive through the water. At its deepest point on Regent, just past the intersection, the water splashed as high as vehicles' front bumpers and partially submerged the tires.
Fredericton Fire Chief Dwayne Killingbeck said emergency crews have responded to about 30 calls of trees affecting power lines. He said some side streets have streams of water because " leaves are blocking grates," affecting storm sewers.
Killingbeck said the the city infrastructure is able to handle the amount of rain expected, and he urged people to remain at home. Anyone with a tree down can contact the city at 506-460-2020, he said.
Roof fail at gas station
At a New Maryland Irving gas station, the underside of the canopy peeled off and fell down onto the pumps. (Ed Hunter/CBC)
In New Maryland, near Fredericton, high winds had trees shaking and toppling, but damage from Lee's winds didn't stop there.
At an Irving gas station, the underside of the roof collapsed onto the pumps below.
As the underside of the roof at a New Maryland gas station slowly fell inwards, one person continued to pump their gas only a few pumps over. (Ed Hunter/CBC)
Only a few pumps over, one person continued to fill their tank before leaving the station.
Riding out the storm
Fisherman Steve Ginnish and his crew are weathering the storm on his fishing boat at the Pointe-Sapin wharf. His boat is aptly named Metu'Nu'G, which means stormy weather in Mi'kmaw.
During Fiona, his boat almost went on top of the wharf at high tide.
Steve Ginnish and his crew are weathering the storm on his fishing boat at the Pointe-Sapin wharf. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)
Also at the wharf, fisherman Oswald Martin was keeping an eye on his boat. He went out to fish Friday, but didn't Saturday.
"Hopefully, she calms down and we can go back out Monday morning."
Strong surf hits boats tied up at the wharf in Pointe-Sapin, N.B., early Saturday afternoon. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)
He said his main concern would be that the storm could scatter the gear and lobster traps that are set out. Then, the fishermen would have to go out and try to retrieve them after the storm,
"Some people succeed. Some people, they don't succeed so they don't see their gear back," said Martin.
Vacation gone wrong
Chelsea Wallace and Liam Strathdee had never been to the East Coast before. So they decided to take a vacation beginning in St. Martins and travelling on to Halifax.
But so far they haven't left St. Martins because of the impending arrival of post-tropical storm Lee.
Chelsea Wallace and Liam Strathdee are storm-stayed in St. Martins after arriving Friday to begin their vacation. (Martin Trainor/CBC)
"We escaped Ontario and now we're stuck inside here," said Strathdee.
Staying in an Airbnb, Wallace said the two woke up with no power and no food, so they had to venture out into the storm to buy some essentials.
"We flew in yesterday. Kind of thankful that we flew in safely before the storm, so we didn't have travel panic" she said.
Winds similar to winter storms in Grand Manan, says mayor
In Grand Manan, Mayor Bonnie Morse said she's seeing strong winds and lots of rain.
She said winds are high and she compares them to the gusts experienced during some winter storms. But this time of year, the gusts come with the added risk of the trees still being in full leaf.
"I would say it's on par with some nor'easters we've had in the past."
There are three separate places on the island where downed trees resulted in blocked roads, said Morse, but those have all been cleared now.
Morse said with high tide coming, she wants to remind residents to stay away from the water and stay home if possible.
"As we've seen over the last couple of hours, DTI, N.B. Power, fire department — they've had their hands full. So, you know, try to keep their lives as easy as we can for the next few hours."
Volunteers Ada Wood, Roger Comeau, Christina Chafe and Karen Tracey, with the Eastern Charlotte Lions Club, huddle around a lantern in the kitchen of the Pennfield Lions Club. (Julia Wright/CBC)
Getting out of the rain in Charlotte County
In Charlotte County, an emergency shelter is up and running at the Pennfield Lions Club.
Volunteers have made soup, sandwiches and coffee for people who've lost power in the area. Several people had already stopped by the shelter by late Saturday morning, including a family who decided to play board games while waiting out the worst of Lee.
Lions Club treasurer Karen Tracy and volunteer Christina Chafe play board games with Violet and Logan Belliveau. About half a dozen people without power, including the Belliveaus, had come through the Pennfield Lions Club by Saturday afternoon. (Julia Wright/CBC)
"We opened yesterday and [it was] unbelievable the people who came here with food, bottled water," said volunteer Karen Tracy. "It was amazing."
There have been numerous power outages along the Fundy Coast. Just down the road in St. George, people could be seen filling up gas cans for their generators. The emergency centre itself had to rely on a generator when the power went out in the morning.
As post-tropical storm Lee gets closer to New Brunswick, a number of communities are already being affected.
In Saint John, the city is asking residents to avoid driving around fallen trees and stay away from areas where crews are working.
At least two large trees in King's Square in uptown Saint John fell victim to post-tropical storm Lee on Saturday morning. This one blocks a walkway leading to the entrance of the City Market. (Julia Wright/CBC)
Saint John urges caution at fallen trees, intersections
Several downed trees have been reported, according to a release from the city. Crews are addressing the sites based on priority.
Flooding is expected and the city warns residents not to try driving through any flooded areas.
People are also asked to keep garbage bags and carts inside over the weekend until at least Sunday evening.
Damage and outages at traffic lights have also been reported and the city advises people to proceed with caution at reduced speeds.
Shelters ready for more people during storm
While New Brunswick property owners prepared for Lee, people worried about those without homes also took action.
Marc Belliveau, senior director at Harvest House Atlantic in Moncton, said the shelter's capacity has increased to at least 74 beds for the weekend from the usual 60.
The team has also stocked-up on essential supplies, including those that would be needed during a power outage. The daily meal count has also increased.
If things get worse, the shelter will also be able to arrange generators through its partnership with the city.
The Moncton shelters are ready to make temporary exceptions for those who have previously been barred, he said.
In Fredericton, Warren Maddox, executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc., said he co-ordinated with the Department of Social Development, the John Howard Society and the city to help people who are homeless get through the storm.
Arrangements to accommodate more people have been made, and the city has offered to have free bus service for anyone who wants to a shelter, Maddox said.
A "temporary forgiveness" will be granted to those who have previously been restricted from the shelter, depending on the reason for which they were barred.