N.L. premier urges residents to prepare as Hurricane Larry heads for province

Residents in eastern Newfoundland should get prepared by tying down loose items and stocking up on water and other supplies ahead of Hurricane Larry's expected landfall, Premier Andrew Furey said Thursday.

The storm is on track to sweep across eastern Newfoundland Friday night, bringing high waves, torrential rain and possible coastal flooding, Environment Canada says.

Furey outlined the steps the government was taking to ensure the safety of residents.

"The utility companies have emergency measures plans in place, as do the regional health authorities," he told reporters. "We don't know what storms bring, but we can be prepared for the worst."

A hurricane warning was in effect late Thursday for the Avalon Peninsula, including St. John's, while tropical storm warnings were in effect for the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas just to the west.

Environment Canada said Larry is expected to quickly downgrade into a post-tropical storm once it gets over colder Canadian waters, but it will bring heavy rainfall of up to 50 millimetres. The agency added that the region could experience winds of up to 130 kilometres per hour.

Bob Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist, told reporters Thursday afternoon the storm was still about 1,700 kilometres from landfall at Cape Race, and it was not expected to weaken in the following 12 to 24 hours. He added the centre of the storm is set to track over the Avalon Peninsula.

Though there is set to be heavy rain, Robichaud said the main concern is the high winds that could cause damage within the area.

"We've seen it many, many times where when you get those winds, you tend to have uprooted trees, broken tree limbs, power outages, even in some cases some structural damage as well," he said.

Robichaud added, however, the worst of the storm should track over the St. John's area between midnight and 3 a.m. Saturday morning, meaning quieter roads and fewer people outdoors.

St. John's city councillor Maggie Burton released a statement Thursday calling for a robust emergency preparedness plan to be put in place to ensure the safety of the province's most vulnerable residents.

In the week following the 2020 blizzard dubbed "Snowmageddon," which led to a state of emergency in St. John's, Burton said she was on the ground supplying residents with food, supplies and medication they weren't able to get on their own. That's why she's now asking the government to step up to prevent citizens from falling through the cracks.

"If our emergency preparedness fails to take into account the most vulnerable, it is incomplete," Burton said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.