P.E.I. sets up temporary emergency shelter as Hurricane Fiona nears

·2 min read
Keith Wood has been living at the Holland College encampment. He's expecting 'a rough night for sure' on Friday.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Keith Wood has been living at the Holland College encampment. He's expecting 'a rough night for sure' on Friday. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

A temporary emergency shelter is being provided to the residents of a tent encampment near Holland College in downtown Charlottetown, on the same day P.E.I. officials eyeing the weekend weather outlined plans for another location at Jack Blanchard Hall.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement early Wednesday, warning Islanders to expect heavy rains from the outer edge of Hurricane Fiona starting Thursday night. The agency expects strong winds to begin Friday night and peak on Saturday.

The exact track and severity of the storm is still unclear.

People without access to affordable housing have set up five encampments around P.E.I.'s capital this summer — the latest development amid the province's growing housing crisis. Holland College president Sandy MacDonald has said roughly 25 to 30 people are living in an encampment near the school.

On Wednesday, the residents of the encampment were packing up and moving to the nearby event grounds — a move that was planned before the storm warning was issued.

"It's going to be worse than normal," said Keith Wood, who lives at the encampment. "We don't know how bad it's going to be so it will make for a rough night for sure."

Kerry Campbell/CBC
Kerry Campbell/CBC

Wood said he might stay at a friend's place during the storm, but he's not that worried — he's used to bad weather.

"I fell and broke my leg when I was working out West and ended up on the street, and it was -35C. You take two tents, put one inside the other," he said.

Vehicles will help campers move

Officials with Holland College said they plan to bring in vehicles to help the encampment's residents move, saying the new location at the event grounds should be an improvement.

"We wanted to move as soon as we could while respecting the fact we wanted to have a place for the campers to go," MacDonald said.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"So they'll actually [have] more protection from the wind than where they are now, and they'll also have Porta-Potties set up as well so they'll have the ability to use the washroom there."

Provincial emergency officials said Wednesday that no one should be outside in a tent during the expected storm.

Shelter at Jack Blanchard Hall

The province announced plans for a temporary emergency shelter as of Thursday if Hurricane Fiona continues to track toward the Island.

The temporary emergency shelter will have cot-style beds, bedding, food and water.

Anyone experiencing homeless or housing insecurity and in need of emergency temporary shelter services during Fiona is asked to go to Jack Blanchard Hall directly for intake.

Islanders in need of other government and community supports can call 211 for assistance.