Thousands left in the dark after Dorian hits the Maritimes Saturday

halifax

As cleanup efforts begin in the Maritimes following the wrath of Dorian, hundreds of thousands of people are without power.

The former hurricane howled into Atlantic Canada on Saturday as a ferocious post-tropical storm with wind gusts reaching nearly 150 kilometres an hour.

In the Halifax area, which was among the hardest hit, the storm uprooted trees, ripped into roofs and pulled down powerlines, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the dark.

As of 9 a.m. Sunday, there were over 380,000 customers in Nova Scotia and 54,000 in New Brunswick without power, as restoration efforts began around the region.

Prince Edward Island also had widespread outages, but their website was down early in the day.

A spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power described the hurricane as "one beast of a storm," that the utility believes has impacted more customers than any previous event in the utility's history.

Up to 700 Canadian Forces personnel will be fanning out across the Maritimes to help restore electricity, clear roadways and evacuate residents in flooded areas.

Early Sunday morning the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador was bracing for heavy rain, strong winds, storm surges and large waves. The Newfoundland Power said it was ready for the storm and would provided updates through an automated alert system.

There have been no reports of injuries in the Maritimes linked to Dorian, but dramatic footage shared on social media showed a large crane swaying in the wind and collapsing into the side of an empty apartment building under construction in downtown Halifax.

In the city's south end, a roof was ripped off another apartment complex, while other images on social media showed scores of upended trees, a torn-up waterfront boardwalk, flooded streets and flying debris.

The Canadian Red Cross opened three evacuation shelters in the Halifax region.

As Dorian closed in on the Maritimes, it strengthened to become a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds reaching 160 km/h. But it weakened by the time it came ashore near Sambro, N.S., at 7:15 p.m. and was downgraded to a post-tropical storm.

Despite its downgrade, Dorian continued to produce hurricane-force winds well above 120 km/h.