62,000 still without power on PEI as Trudeau travels to province, promises help

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  • CBC PEI continues to focus on the aftermath of Fiona. If your data or internet is limited, click here for CBC Lite version of the PEI website.

About 62,000 Maritime Electric customers on PEI were still without power Tuesday afternoon, more than three days after post-tropical storm Fiona ravaged the province.

Utility spokeswoman Kim Griffin said crews from parent company Fortis have arrived to help with the restoration.

About 350 power poles have been damaged, she said.

Maritime Electric spokeswoman Kim Griffin said Tuesday that crews are working to repair about 350 damaged power poles. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Griffin said it’s more important than ever to stay away from downed lines as power is restored.

“That’s my scariest thought through this event, and through this storm, is if this happened to someone who was near power lines, so we continue to ask people to stay away from them. We will don’t have them near them and our crews are trying to get in and clean up as quickly as they can in all the communities while they re-energize.”

Crews are working 12- and 16-hour shifts, she said, but restoring service may be slower than in Nova Scotia because of the “thousands” of trees that have fallen on power lines.

“No storm is the same and no impact is the same,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to people in a fishing community.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Islanders on Tuesday as he saw firsthand the devastation caused by post-tropical storm Fiona. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured parts of Prince Edward Island decimated by post-tropical storm Fiona on Tuesday and got a first-hand look at the devastation on the ground.

The storm made landfall on PEI late Friday night into Saturday morning, leaving widespread destruction across the island from downed trees and power lines to destroyed buildings and roads.

On Tuesday, Trudeau visited the North Shore community of Stanley Bridge, which was hit particularly hard by the storm. The visit included private meetings with members of the local community affected by the storm and local MPs.

“It’s good to be here on the ground in PEI today. Obviously, there’s a lot of devastation – not just here, but we saw it going all over the island. Not only fishermen and wharves are affected, obviously agriculture, ” he said.

An engineer support unit from Canadian Forces Base in Gagetown, NB established headquarters at Slemon Park as part of task force PEI (Brian Higgins/CBC)

“We were already working ahead of the storm to prepare for the worst. And you know, the worst happened. But at the same time, there are tremendous stories of resilience, of rebuilding, and there’s a lot of work to be done over the course of the coming weeks and months.”

Trudeau met with PEI Premier Dennis King in person on Tuesday to discuss the challenges in person and begin work on looking to build more resilient infrastructure in the future. King said he called for immediate help for the fishing and farming industries, which suffered “significant losses” from Fiona.

Many dairy barns and potato storage facilities were destroyed, King said during the briefing Tuesday.

“It’s a big, big concern for that industry.”

An aerial view of Fiona’s path of destruction in PEI

This drone footage collected by CBC video producer Shane Hennessey on Sunday shows the extensive damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona in parts of the island.

Trudeau, who will also visit Sydney, NS, while on the east coast, said the federal government will offer whatever support it can as the province grapples with the devastation.

“People are really concerned, but at the same time we’ve seen people come together. That’s the story of Islanders and indeed of Canadians — that we’re there for each other in difficult times,” he said.

“Right now everyone is going through a lot of anxiety, a lot of hard work cleaning up, but we know that it’s not just now that they need help. It will be for weeks and months and even years to come.”

King said he is not prepared to issue a stay-at-home order, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. But once again he pleaded with islanders to stay off the roads unless necessary.

Fiona’s destruction – and the resilience of the islanders

‘It’s a little crazy’: A look around the province as PEI picks up the pieces. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“People have been locked up for two years with COVID and we have to allow them to move around,” he said. “What we continue to ask people to do is to be careful, is to be aware, is to be understanding.”

Although there was extensive damage to property, no serious injuries were reported due to the storm.

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