Prince Edward Island is reporting at least one death following an historic storm that forced thousands into the dark and caused extensive damage across the island.
During a live news conference Sunday, the province said, while the person’s cause of death has yet to be determined, a preliminary investigation suggests that generator issues may have played a role.
No other details about the individual have been released at this time.
Nearly 36 hours after post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall in the Maritimes, 95 per cent of customers on Prince Edward Island remain without power.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King noted that over 50 transportation crew members have been out surveying the damage since early Sunday morning. Additionally, Maritime Electric is using helicopters for aerial assessments.
“The initial assessments say that, overall, our road infrastructure may have fared out a little bit better than we initially thought, but there are considerable pockets of severe damage all across Prince Edward Island,” King said.
There are currently six roads completely closed on P.E.I., as well as many other bridges that remain “completely impassable.” That’s in addition to what King describes as “considerable damage” to at least six schools across the province.
King told reporters that ministers are working on contingency plans for affected schools. In the meantime, schools will be closed across P.E.I. on Monday and Tuesday, with a further update expected Tuesday morning.
“Our government will do whatever we can do as fast as we can do it, as long as it takes to help our province get through these challenging situations,” King said.
On Saturday, the provincial government sent a request to the federal government to provide assistance with recovery and cleanup. Moments before the news conference, King said he received confirmation that over 100 military personnel will be arriving later Sunday night, in hopes of assisting crews on the ground by Monday morning.
As for the availability of gas, King pointed out that the Island does have fuel, but issues with electricity at the tank farm in Charlottetown has delayed the distribution of fuel to community gas stations.
King said that the provincial cabinet has been meeting multiple times a day, where they created three cabinet committees to address economic concerns, infrastructure and recovery, and social supports for Islanders.
In the meantime, over 30 reception centres have opened across the province where residents can go for food, comfort, or a place to charge electric devices. Additionally, temporary shelter services will be extended until at least Tuesday.
According to King, the province is in the early stages of creating an urgent financial assistance program.
King also confirmed that the federal government is putting together a plan to help rebuild wharfs and fishing infrastructure that received considerable damage during Fiona.
“The magnitude and the severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” King said, noting it will take a “Herculean effort” to restore P.E.I. infrastructure over the next few weeks.
Speaking to reporters, P.E.I. Deputy Premier Darlene Compton noted that the current priority for Maritime Electric is road cleanup before crews can begin restoring power.
“I think it’s fair to say this is going to take days,” Compton said. “As lines become live again, we have to have Maritime Electric crews with them to ensure that everyone remains safe.”
Compton noted that health-care facilities are operating but some services may be suspended. The province has also reported an undisclosed number of fires, including at the Stanhope Golf Course and Country Club.
Civil service workers are expected to work from home temporarily as crews assess the damage to government buildings. Provincial courts, supreme courts, and the court of appeals have cancelled hearing matters on Monday.
A representative from Maritime Electric is urging residents to stay home in an effort to ration fuel.
“Without power and without the inability to access fuel completely, we don’t want you filling up your gas tanks to drive around and look at damage when we really need to be prioritizing fuel for emergency response and essential services,” she said.