The Halifax Regional Municipality is feeling the effects of post-tropical storm Lee.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the storm remains large and dangerous and he’s urging residents to avoid the coastline.
“Stay away from the water’s edge for your own safety and for the safety of first responders that might called to assist. I can’t stress that urgently enough,” said Savage during a news conference Saturday afternoon.
“This is no time to go wave watching or be out on the roads unnecessarily.”
He said a number of roads are blocked due to seawater and debris. He also noted several culverts are washed out, and there are a number of downed trees and power lines. Savage said if residents notice any issues, to call 311 so staff can keep track and take care of the problems.
Tens of thousands of people are without power across the municipality.
Savage is concerned about storm surge with the next high tide, after dangerous conditions Saturday morning.
“While we do not yet know the full impact of this storm system, we do know coastal regions experienced high seas and storm surge at high tide this morning,” said Savage.
As a result, Halifax Transit ferries have been taken out of service. Municipal parks, recreation centres and libraries have also been closed.
Savage said most of the Halifax Water plants are operating well, however some are on backup power, which is something the municipality will keep a close eye on.
A Bell outage was also reported in the Dartmouth area around 2 p.m.
“The service providers are working with the province and feeding us information,” said emergency management director Erica Fleck.
She said HRM did not have any updates on the restoration time.
In a post on social media, Bell Aliant said it is seeing some wireless congestion in areas with widespread power outages. It said crews are deploying generators “where required and safe to do so.”
Halifax Regional Police said they were responding to a number of reports of down power lines Saturday afternoon, with streets obstructed by debris.
Police say there are also a large number of traffic lights out of service due to power outages.
As of 4 p.m., South Street between Queen Street and South Park Street is shut down to all traffic. Police say the closure is due to debris that has fallen off a building under construction.
Police are asking people stay off city streets unless absolutely necessary.
HRM is anticipating structural damage to some roads following this storm — noting recent damage from fires and floods.
“Of course, we won’t know until we’re able to get out after the event and do some assessments,” said CAO Cathie O’Toole.
“We also still have open work orders from the flooding in the summer, so we know that there’s some roads and some areas where there would have been some weakness remaining from the last flood.”
A woman struggles to keep her tent upright at the encampment in Victoria Park in Halifax, during post-tropical storm Lee on Saturday, September 16, 2023. (Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kelly Clark)
The Nova Scotia government is operating emergency shelters for those experiencing homelessness.
Savage said the municipality is working with the province to move people who are living rough or in encampments to shelters.
“Street outreach navigators have visited encampment sites to advise people of sheltering options. Some refuse to move, but we have assisted many to get to safety,” said Savage.
He said volunteers with Halifax Ground Search and Rescue continue to do wellness checks on the safety of those who choose not to leave.
Shelters have been opened at the Captain William Spry Community Centre in Spryfield, St. Matthews United Church in downtown Halifax, and Beacon House in Lower Sackville.
Comfort centres have not been opened for the general public at this time.
“HRM did not open up any shelters preemptively as we’ve done in the past,” said Fleck.
“We didn’t see the need and we still do not have anybody at this point that is requiring shelters, other than those that are experiencing homelessness, but once the storm has passed and we are able to make a full assessment, we’ll do that as we get through the storm.”
Click here for a photo gallery of the impact of post-tropical storm Lee in the Maritime provinces.