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Nova Scotia Power expects lengthy outages with Hurricane Fiona

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

Some power customers in the province did not have electricity for a week after the 2019 storm.

“When the winds do get above [80 km/h]we will stand the buckets down,” Nova Scotia Power storm lead Matt Drover told reporters at a briefing Friday afternoon. “We can still get out and do assessments of what the damage may be, but we won’t actually be able to get the buckets up in the air until the winds get below 80.”

Fiona is still expected to make landfall early Saturday as a hurricane-strength post-tropical storm. Environment Canada says wind 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 co-ordinating that effort,” Drover said.

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

“Especially in the province of Nova Scotia where there is a significant amount of rock in the ground, it is costly to install below ground lines,” he said.

“And when outages do occur — underground systems aren’t outage-free — when there are issues with those systems it can sometimes take longer to restore those outages, it takes a while to find where the problem is.”

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

Avoid downed lines, report immediately

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

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

“And then we’ll 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 get hit hard.”

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

Erica Fleck, assistant chief of emergency management for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said the boardwalk on the downtown Halifax waterfront and Peggys Cove will be barricaded later on Friday.

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

Christina Lamey, a spokesperson for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said Center 200 will be open later Friday night to people who may feel unsafe in the storm. Center 200 will open at 8 pm

Center 200 opening in Cape Breton tonight

“If people could come with 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 individuals experiencing homelessness.

Lamey and Fleck said comfort center locations will be announced as soon as it’s 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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