Hurricane Fiona: Impacts on Atlantic Canadian agriculture and assistance programs
September 28, 2022 By Alex Barnard
On Sept. 23 and 24, post-tropical storm Fiona left a swath of destruction across much of Atlantic Canada. The damage is already being called historic in terms of financial impact and many people are displaced and/or without power still. P.E.I. premier Dennis King warned in a press conference that the “road to recovery will be weeks or longer,” since the damage was perhaps “the worst we’ve ever seen” from a tropical storm system.
Members of Parliament held an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night, giving MPs a chance to discuss “the urgent and escalating situation in Atlantic Canada,” as Richard Cannings, NDP MP and emergency preparedness critic, called it, and determine how to move forward with assistance programs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured parts of P.E.I. decimated by the storm on Tuesday, getting a first-hand look at the devastation on the ground.
“This region of the province has seen a lot of significant weather events, but nothing like what we have seen from Fiona,” said Andrew Parsons, N.L. minister of industry, energy and technology. “We are focusing not only on the immediate response to help residents in impacted communities, but also working on how we can support in the months and years to come.”
This storm has affected Nova Scotians in unimaginable ways and we want people to know the Province is here to support them,” said John Lohr, N.S. minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office. “We have a team working on getting money in the hands of people as soon as possible. We know it will help.
Farmers and the agriculture industry were hit hard, with damaged barns, orchards and fields seen across Atlantic Canada’s ag Twitter accounts. Ryan Barrett of the P.E.I. Potato Board lost his dairy barn, with some casualties to his dairy herd.
Many have already heard… but we lost our barn in the hurricane. Parlour part still functional, but big rebuild ahead. We’ve found a temporary home for most of the cows. We’re keeping a few late lactation cows home to dry them off over the next couple of weeks. 1/x pic.twitter.com/hHyRjWisTr
— Ryan Barrett (@rbarrettPEI) September 27, 2022
Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association (NSFGA) released a statement on how the storm affected apple growers in Annapolis Valley:
“In the aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona, the general sense among most Nova Scotia apple farmers is ‘cautious relief’ after the storm tore through Atlantic Canada over the weekend. The Annapolis Valley was spared the worst of the storm as it battered the more northeastern parts of the province. With a good growing season thus far and a heavy crop load on the trees, some farmers were out before the storm picking mature fruit from the tops of the trees to prevent breakage. High winds and heavy rains did knock some apples to the ground and growers have been assessing for bruising of the crop on the trees. Trellis systems were put to the test with some growers reporting some failures and downed trees, but not to the extent that was expected. Fireblight was a main concern and protective measures were taken by many in the hours after the storm passed. Many farm nurseries were also impacted and some breakage is being reported.
Perennia tree fruit specialist Michelle Cortens has been on the ground examining the orchards. She states, ‘I have started visiting farms to assess the impact on our industry. Amidst some crop loss and structural damage, I’m still pleased to see good fruit on the trees and harvest ongoing. Even after a string of years with difficult growing conditions, your optimism is clear. Please give me a call if you have questions or comments and I’ll continue to make my way around farms.’
Those who lost power took extra care to ensure any employees living in on-farm housing were comfortable and well-supplied, but outages were not as widespread in this area of the province as others. Overall many in the industry are feeling grateful that things weren’t worse and are watching the ongoing cleanup and recovery efforts happening in other areas of the province while they continue harvesting what is still expected to be a fairly good crop this year.”
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to wish our apple growers well after #FIONA2022 @NSPerennia. There is some crop loss and structural damage but also a general sense of relief with plenty of fruit and harvest ongoing. More info @nsfruitgrowers https://t.co/3ixC7GPZvf pic.twitter.com/ZFO8TgcWZc
— Michelle Cortens (@NSTreeFruit) September 28, 2022
For Canadians who have been affected by Fiona, the Atlantic provinces have enacted disaster relief financial programs:
- New Brunswick: Disaster Financial Assistance, 2022 Hurricane Fiona;
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Hurricane Fiona Relief Efforts;
- Nova Scotia: Disaster Financial Assistance for Hurricane Fiona;
- Prince Edward Island: Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Program;
- Quebec: Financial assistance for Hurricane Fiona disaster victims.
Canadians who have not been impacted by the devastation caused by post-tropical storm Fiona over the weekend and are interested in donating to the Canadian Red Cross’s relief efforts can do so at redcross.ca/hurricane-fiona-2022. The federal government has established a donation-matching program with the Canadian Red Cross to support those impacted by the storm and will match donations Canadians and corporations make for the next 30 days (from Sept. 25), with the possibility of extension.
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