Amelia Smith heard many stories about Hurricane Hazel while growing up in Toronto.
Hazel, remembered as one of the worst storms in the city’s history, swept through the area in 1954, flooding roads, bridges and neighborhoods and killing 81 people.
“You have heard about it, but it is more of a myth. It’s a legend,” says Smith, who left Toronto for Antigonish, Nova Scotia just a month ago.
“But actually going through it now, experiencing it … it really sheds light on it.”
All of these stories of devastation caused by Hazel have suddenly become central to Smith as she prepares for Hurricane Fiona, which is expected to develop into a powerful post-tropical storm that will bring gale-force winds, heavy rains and big waves into the Atlantic. Canada early Saturday, after Bermuda was hit by torrential rains and winds and Puerto Rico hit by severe flooding.
Hurricanes are fairly rare in Canada, in part because they weaken significantly when they reach colder waters. But Nova Scotia is no stranger to extreme weather, having been hit by Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019. However, the Canadian Hurricane Center says Fiona is bigger than Juan and stronger than Dorian and calls it “historic, extreme”. “event for Atlantic Canada.
“It’s really a hassle,” Smith says, adding that she has prepared food and water for three days and also has a flashlight and batteries in case her power goes out.
“You can only prepare so much and so you just wait and wait for it to happen.”
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Marquis Murray can tell. He moved with his wife and two children from Coburg, Ontario, to Halifax just two months ago, so he quickly learned the art of preparing for a storm. This includes tying up a canoe and protecting the solar panels and woodpile on his off-grid property, chatting with neighbors about best practices, and even sharing his day-to-day activities online.
“You really just need to keep people informed about what’s going on,” Murray says.
Having recently moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario, he says he thought about documenting their hurricane preparations so friends and family back home know what’s going on.
The Canadian Hurricane Center has released a hurricane watch over the vast coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Authorities in Nova Scotia issued an emergency alert for Fiona’s arrival and urged people to speak inside, avoid coastlines, charge devices and have enough supplies for at least 72 hours.
Since posting on TikTok, his video has racked up over 100,000 views, 10,000 likes and comments that Murray calls helpful.
“They give advice, lend a helping hand in any way they can, and basically just cheer you up,” he says.
“It really supported me.”
Although Smith is worried about the upcoming storm, this is not the first time she has been exposed to extreme weather. Last year, she watched from Victoria as a “once-in-a-century” storm led to floods, landslides and gas rations in southern British Columbia.
“The climate is getting worse and worse. We will have to expect more and more of them.”