Nova Scotia Power expects prolonged outages with Hurricane Fiona

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Nova Scotia Power says Hurricane Fiona could be “a Dorian-level event” when it comes to extended power outages.

Some electricity customers in the province were without electricity for a week after the 2019 storm.

“When the wind comes over [80 km/h]we’ll keep the buckets down,” Nova Scotia Power storm Matt Drover told reporters at a briefing Friday afternoon. “We can still come out and make assessments of what the damage might be, but we won’t actually be in able to grab the buckets in the air until the wind drops below 80.”

Fiona is still expected to make landfall early Saturday as a hurricane-strength post-tropical storm. Environment Canada says gusts could reach 120 km/h or higher in parts of Sydney and Halifax.

More than 800 Nova Scotia Power workers in the field ready to restore power and “hundreds more behind the scenes coordinating this effort,” Drover said.

The majority of Nova Scotia’s power infrastructure is above ground, with more than half a million poles across the province,” Drover said, adding that there are some buried underground.

“Especially in the province of Nova Scotia, where there’s a significant amount of rock in the ground, it’s expensive to install lines underground,” he said.

“And when outages occur — underground systems are not outage-free — when there are problems with those systems, sometimes it can take longer to restore those outages, it takes a while to figure out where the problem is.”

Although crews won’t be able to restore lines in very high winds, Drover encouraged people to report downed lines.

Avoid broken lines, report immediately

“If you see wires down, don’t go near them,” Drover said.

He said hospitals and public health areas would be the priority for restorations.

“And then we get into communities and sub-communities from there and individual houses at the end of the restoration,” Drover said.

Stay away from the sea

Nova Scotia’s incident management division for Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office said the province is “definitely going to be hit hard.”

“It’s going to be a big storm. We’re asking all Nova Scotians to be safe, have a 72-hour emergency kit and check on the neighbors,” Mew said.

Erica Fleck, assistant emergency manager for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said the downtown Halifax waterfront boardwalk and Peggys Cove will be closed later Friday.

“It’s going to be really unsafe as well as any area near the water, we would really prefer that people stay inside and be safe,” Fleck said.

Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Munipcality, said Center 200 will be open later Friday night for people who may feel unsafe during the storm. Center 200 opens at 8 p.m

Center 200 opens in Cape Breton tonight

“If people could bring their own supplies as much as possible, that would be good,” Lamey said.

The Community Homeless Shelter on Townsend Street in Sydney will be open overnight through the storm for people experiencing homelessness.

Lamey and Fleck said the comfort center locations will be announced as soon as it is safe to travel again. Lamey said people should not travel during the storm.

Membertou School in Cape Breton will open as a warming center in case of power outages, the Membertou Development Corporation told CBC News in an email.

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