Power recovery efforts may continue to Monday morning, N.B. Power says

Heavy winds blew down trees in Pointe-du-Chêne, N.B. (Nicolas Steinbach/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Heavy winds blew down trees in Pointe-du-Chêne, N.B. (Nicolas Steinbach/Radio-Canada - image credit)

While 85 per cent of customers in New Brunswick who lost power Saturday have it back, thousands may still be in the dark until Monday.

Dominique Couture, spokesperson for N.B. Power, said crews will be working overnight to restore power to the remaining 11,000 customers.

N.B. Power reported 11,321 customers without power as of 7:30 p.m. Sunday

The bulk of the outages remain in the Shediac-Cap-Péle (4,165) and Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe regions (2,270).

Sackville-Port-Elgin is at 2,260 customers without power, and Kent is at 1,934.

Heavy winds Saturday night and Sunday morning prevented some crews from being able to access some power lines, which hindered restoration progress, Couture said.

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

Still, crews were able to reduce the number of customers without power from Friday night's high of 95,000.

"Our crews continue to work hard to safely and efficiently restore power to all impacted customers," said Couture.

Full damage picture still unknown

New Brunswick's public safety minister said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona, but he expects help will be made available to affected residents.

Bill Hogan told CBC News Network that there was a "significant" amount of coastal erosion and damage to infrastructure along the east coast of the province.

"Right now we're still in the process of evaluating how much damage [...] occurred in the province and then once we've completed that we'll look at a [disaster financial assistance] program if necessary," said Hogan.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC
Alexandre Silberman/CBC

"I would suspect at this point that that will be where we'll be headed, but we won't know that until probably later today or tomorrow."

Hogan said the province has reached out to the federal government for assistance and that Ottawa is prepared to help in any way it can.

Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson for N.B. EMO, said crews are assessing the damage and starting to get a clearer picture.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC
Alexandre Silberman/CBC

He said there is still danger from downed trees and power lines and warns people to stay away from affected areas.

"We're still asking people to stay off the roads if possible," said Downey.

"There's still debris, there's some [roads] that are still closed. There's lots of N.B. Power workers who are out trying to get everyone back online. There's no need to make things more difficult for everyone."

'We're such a good community here'

The community of Pointe-du-Chêne near Shediac was hit hard. Homes close to the ocean were flooded and power has been out for more than 24 hours.

The local community centre was converted into an emergency centre, with food, water and generator power available to residents who need it.

On Saturday, two trees fell on Peggy DeMerchant's house, and one fell on top of her shed.

"I never thought it would be this bad because I live three streets back from the ocean. But it was scary," she said.

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

On Sunday morning, DeMerchant was preparing food for other community members, especially those whose homes were flooded.

"I brought whatever I had in the fridge, in the freezer," she said.

She said about 150 people had dinner at the centre on Saturday night and the disaster has brought people together.

"People were borrowing generators, people were letting their neighbours bring over their meat and produce ... putting them in their freezers because we don't want anyone to lose anything," she said.

"It's been a rough couple of days, but we're such a good community here. I wouldn't leave."

Jim Murray of Cape Tormentine, N.B., said the storm was unlike anything he'd ever experienced, saying it dwarfed Hurricane Dorian, which hit the same area in 2019.

"Dorian was nothing to this," said Murray.

"Seas coming over I've never seen before. You had to stop. Just worse than any snowstorm I was ever in."

Aniekan Etuhube/CBC
Aniekan Etuhube/CBC

While his home remained undamaged, Murray said his lobster boat's bow was broken and he is concerned about what the storm will mean for the last two and a half weeks of the lobster season.

"I don't know what mess we have," said Murray.

"In Dorian I lost 23 traps, but I had my gear out in deeper water. This time I moved it into shallower water. Did it help it? Don't know."

Military called in

All three branches of the armed forces have been called in to help with the cleanup, according to the Department of National Defence.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday that forces at CFB Gagetown have been put on alert to help, if required.

"The Canadian Army's immediate response unit in Gagetown …has increased its readiness to move at short notice and deploy if called upon.

"[They] are now commencing reconnaissance and preparing for preliminary moves to better understand where and what is required."

In a post on its Facebook page, the 5th Canadian Division, which is based at CFB Gagetown, said they are "preparing to respond" to the request for assistance.