'We will see an impact,'

·3 min read

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — As hurricane Fiona’s track northward continues to be uncertain, Prince Edward Island residents are being urged to prepare for a weekend of nasty weather.

The storm system strengthened to a Category 4 off the eastern Caribbean on Sept. 21, with winds up to 215 kilometres per hour as of 9 a.m.

At a press conference Sept. 21, put on by the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) in Charlottetown, Agriculture and Land Minister Darlene Compton said EMO has been paying close attention to the storm over the past few days.

“EMO has been reaching out to all its partners sooner than usual to understand how their planning is going,” said Compton, adding that EMO is working with councillors from municipalities across the province to determine what centres will be open to the public and the precariously housed.

Every municipality decided what centres will be opened to the public, and EMO is currently in the process of compiling this information to make available to the public.

“Right now, we’re in a good position. We have time to plan and prepare, and that’s what I’m encouraging every resident to do,” said Compton.

Good to know

EMO’s Tanya Mullally said residents should expect to see stormy conditions starting Sept. 23 and to take the necessary precaution.

“Fiona will impact P.E.I., we know that. We don’t know the how or the where or the how bad, but we can say for certain we will see an impact,” said Mullally.

"If you recall back to Juan (in 2003), there was this very distinctive line of really heavy wind damage in the Charlottetown area and then more significant rain damage or rain impacts up in the Summerside area.”

Dan Bedell, communications director for the Canadian Red Cross on P.E.I., said there is still lots of time to prepare and not to panic.

“The key to staying safe is to prepare and to pay close attention to the warnings. There is a lot of things people can do now over these next couple of days to prepare inside and outside,” Bedell told SaltWire Network on Sept. 20.

Storm preparation

“If the power goes out, you cannot pump gas at a gas station and you cannot use an ATM or a credit or debit card,” said Bedell.

Despite this, there is no need to rush to the store, as there is still plenty of time, said Bedell.

“We’re asking people to stop and think about what they’ll need if the power is out for a day or three days. If they do that, there should be nothing to worry about,” he said.

Kim Griffin, spokesperson for Maritime Electric, said it is closely monitoring the storm and taking it very seriously.

Crews are being prepared for worst-case scenarios, and all employees are being updated regularly.

“We’ve been watching over the last few days, but for anyone who knows an East Coast storm, it’s really hard to predict until it’s close to you,” said Griffin.

When post-tropical storm Dorian hit P.E.I. in late 2019, thousands of residents were left without power for several days.

The highest winds recorded during Dorian were 122 kilometres per hour at North Cape. Hurricane Juan was a category 2 storm when it hit the Maritimes.

Lessons were learned from these storms, Griffin added.

“We worked closely with province and deforestation crews on tree trimming after thousands of trees and limbs flew across the province (during Dorian),” she said, adding all available crews will also be on standby going into the weekend.

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian