Hundreds of thousands without power as Atlantic Canada cleans up after Dorian

TORONTO – After Dorian weakened below hurricane force to a post-tropical cyclone, moving away from Newfoundland and Labrador and towards Europe, parts of Atlantic Canada remain without power Monday.

As of 6:12 a.m. ADT Monday, Environment Canada Tropical Cyclone statements remained in effect for News Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of eastern Quebec.

Hurricane warnings were downgraded to tropical storm notices for the west coast of Newfoundland Sunday evening and all warnings south of Cape Anguille were discontinued. Hurricane warnings were ended late Sunday morning for Nova Scotia, as were tropical storm warnings for Prince Edward Island.

Strong wind warnings remained in effect for parts Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Eastern Quebec.

WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES

More than 12,500 customers are still without power in New Brunswick as of 8:45 a.m. EST Monday, down from 50,000 according to NB Power, while Maritime Electric report 24,240 customers without power, down from 55,000 customers without service in P.E.I.

Nova Scotia Power CEO Karen Hutt told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday that, as of 8 a.m. EST, approximately 212,000 customers were without power, down from just over 400,000. Hutt said that they had to wait to tackle any outages over the weekend because of dangerously strong winds, but that the restoration process began “in earnest” this morning.

"As soon as conditions were safe for them to be in the field and do their work, then they were able to do that," she said.

Hutt suggested power would be restored “this week.”

“Right now we’re setting times as far out as late Wednesday,” she said, reiterating that only in “unique, complex circumstances” would delays likely go beyond that.

Crews from Ontario and Quebec have been brought in to assist with the restoration and cleanup. In total, Hutt said, there were more than 1,000 people out Sunday as part of the effort.

The crews were focusing first on restoring power to hospitals, care facilities and other high-priority locations. Once those had been restored, they would work on outages affecting large volumes of homes and businesses.

Hutt warned people venturing outside in the storm's aftermath to stay away from fallen poles and wires.

"Don't take chances at all," she said.

"If (you) see a downed power line, assume that it is dangerous. Do not go anywhere near that."

According to Environment Canada, the number of power outages reported in Nova Scotia following Dorian's strike might be an all-time record for the province. At one point, about 80 per cent of Nova Scotia Power customers were in the dark. 

TAKING STOCK OF DAMAGE

As the storm moved on from the Maritimes, attention was turning to assessment and cleanup. The hurricane centre said it had received reports of winds as strong as 144 km/h and rainfall totals as high as 150 mm in some areas.

Significant storm surge was reported in Halifax Harbour and along parts of New Brunswick's eastern coastline.

There had been no reports of serious injuries as of Sunday evening, but many reports of significant damage. Four residential buildings were evacuated because their roofs had been blown off.

To everyone dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian: Canadians are with you. I spoke with Premiers @dennyking & @StephenMcNeil today to offer our government's continued support as you get through this. Thanks to the first responders who have been working hard on the ground

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 8, 2019

The hurricane centre reported that it had heard of "countless" downed or uprooted trees across the Maritimes. A construction crane in downtown Halifax was also toppled, creating a twisted mess as it fell on an under-construction apartment building.

Military assistance was called in to help clear the storm wreckage, with cleanup crews beginning in earnest early this morning, CTV News’ Todd Battis reported Monday.

Rear Admiral Craig Baines, the commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic, said 300 troops would be mobilized Sunday to help wherever they were needed, with 400 others available if needed.