Storm Fiona: Woman swept out to sea missing and homes washed away as storm batters Canada

Canada is being battered by Storm Fiona, ITV News' Vincent McAviney reports

One woman is missing after being washed out to sea as ex-Hurricane Fiona battered five provinces on Canada’s eastern Atlantic region overnight.

The huge storm has washed houses into the sea, torn the roofs off others and knocking out power to thousands of homes in the vast majority of two Canadian provinces.

Strong rains and winds are continuing to wreak havoc for residents, after Fiona made landfall as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone.

Fiona transformed from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late on Friday, but it still had hurricane-strength winds, bringing with it drenching rains and huge waves.

Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say two people were swept out of homes that collapsed into the sea as the storm hit on Saturday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said one woman was rescued by residents in Port aux Basques, but another woman believed to have been swept out from a basement remained missing.

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President Joe Biden and Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, have declared emergencies, as they monitor growing Storm Ian.The tropical storm is currently rumbling through the Caribbean, and expected to continue gaining strength and become a major hurricane in the coming days on a forecast track toward the state.Hurricane Fiona has already been blamed for at least five deaths - two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.

Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques, on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea on Satuday.

In a social media post the town’s mayor, Brian Button, said that people were being evacuated to high ground, as winds knocked down power lines.

“We’ve already had houses… that are washed away,” he said.

Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, said a woman was now safe after being “tossed into the water as her home collapsed” in the Channel-Port Aux Basques area.

She confirmed authorities had received a report of another woman who was apparently swept out from the building's basement, but said that storm conditions were too dangerous to conduct a search.

The Royal Canadian Police said the town of 4,000 is in a state of emergency, as authorities deal with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.

Canada’s Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, told The Associated Press he expects the Canadian Armed Forces to help in the recovery, including possibly moving people around, assisting with shelters and providing help with the removal of debris - in addition to rescue operations - should it be needed.

Workers clear trees which were felled in Halifax by Hurricane Fiona. Credit: AP

“They are moving now,” Mr Blair said. “The damage is very extensive. We’ve seen homes, community centers, apartment buildings, roadways, bridges have all been impacted."

He added there is very extensive damage at the airport in Sydney, Nova Scotia and at other airports including Halifax, but there is more minor damage at Nova's Scotia's largest airport.

Mike Savage, the mayor of Halifax, said the hurricane had caused the roof of an apartment building to collapse, and led to 100 people being moved to an evacuation center.

He said no one was seriously hurt or killed, but officials have confirmed that Halifax has about 160 people displaced from two apartments.

More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers - about 80% of the province of almost one million - were affected by outages, on Saturday morning.

Waves created by Hurricane Fiona batter the coastline of Canada's Atlantic region. Credit: AP

In the province of Prince Edward Island over 82,000 customers were also without power, while NB Power, in New Brunswick, reported 44,329 people had no electricity.

Elsewhere, widespread power outages, road closures and damage to homes has led to a state of local emergency being declared, by the mayor and council of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn on Saturday, with its power down from the Category 4 strength it had when passing by the island of Bermuda.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre had earlier tweeted that Fiona has the lowest pressure ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be the one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.

It has also issued a hurricane watch for coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

Empty shelves are seen in a grocery store as shoppers stock up on food in advance of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Halifax. Credit: AP

Researchers captured dramatic footage of 50ft waves mixed with winds of more than 100 mph, in the Atlantic Ocean, as the hurricane headed for Canada.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said he had requested military and disaster assistance from the federal government. He said roads were washed out, including his own, adding an “incredible” amount of trees had been felled.

“It is pretty devastating. The sad reality is the people who need information are unable to hear it. Their phones are not working, they don't have power or access to the internet,” Mr Houston said.

In response to Fiona, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to delay his trip to Japan, for the funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in case the situation worsened.

On Saturday, the US National Hurricane Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 90mph (150kph).

Its analysis showed hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 405 miles (650 kilometers).

“This is definitely going to be one of, if not the most powerful tropical cyclones to affect our part of the country,” Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre said.

“It’s going to be definitely as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen.”

Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy.

But post-tropical cyclones can still bring hurricane-strength winds, although they have a cold core and no visible eye. They also often lose their symmetric form and share a greater resemblance with a comma.

Before Fiona arrived on Friday, people in affected areas were rushing to stock up essentials and working to stormproof their properties.