Port Elgin declares state of emergency

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PORT ELGIN, N.B. _ A local state of emergency remained in effect in Port Elgin, N.B., on Sunday after a huge storm surge crashed in off the Gulf of St. Lawrence flooding dozens of homes and businesses and destroying cottages.

Area residents hit hard by water levels that rose several metres above normal remained worried about the potential for further damage from additional storm surges.

``We are expecting more bad weather with high winds and high tides this afternoon and again tonight,' said Judy Scott, mayor of the tiny community of 500 people nestled on the Gulf shore.

``We had extensive flooding, a metre up the sides of some houses and we've had to borrow pumps. There are people who have lost their cottages right off the cement.'

A massive winter storm that swept through on Saturday dumped up to 30 centimetres of snow on much of the region but it was the system's strong winds that caused most of the damage.

However, Environment Canada said those winds were not expected to be as big a factor on Sunday, diminishing the threat of further flooding.

``Gusts of 90 kilometres were a contributing factor last night but we don't have them any more,' said meteorologist Andy Firth.

``The winds won't be as strong and the water level shouldn't be as high,' he said.

Port Elgin Fire Chief Steve Alward said his crews were up all night helping evacuate people who were cut off by water levels that rose several metres above normal, the result of strong winds combined with high tides.

``The tide is receding and we're just trying to assess damage right now,' said a weary Alward early Sunday.

``Some people stayed in a nursing home overnight, some stayed with family while others were able to return home once the water started receding.'

Alward said they'd be able to get a better picture in the daylight.

``As far as we know everyone's accounted for but we still have to do our assessment.'

Deputy mayor Val MacDermid was among those trapped by the surge that left her driveway and the road in front of her home under a couple of metres of water.

``I had a friend come down to get me but he couldn't get through because the water was just too high,' she said when reached by phone on Sunday.

MacDermid said she wasn't even sure that the two-metre-high breakwater in front of her house was still there.

``Where my lawn slopes down toward it, the water is up over that and about three metres from the front of my house.'

A little further south storm surge also sent water over the causeway linking Point-du-Chene, N.B., with nearby Shediac, isolating dozens of residents.

Firefighters evacuated one elderly couple due to safety concerns and took them to a reception centre operated by Red Cross volunteers.

Some places in Nova Scotia including Clarke's Harbour and Halifax also reported storm surge damage.

Firth said some businesses along the Halifax harbour front were flooded by waves that were only slightly smaller than those kicked up by hurricane Juan a few years ago.

``The normal high tide would be about 2.1 metres. We got up to about 2.8 in the harbour last night, only 10 centimetres less than we had from Juan,' said Firth.

Utility crews across the Maritimes were working Sunday to restore electrical power after the storm left tens of thousands in the dark.

At it's height Saturday, almost 45,000 homes and businesses in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island were blacked out.

By Sunday morning, more than 13,000 customers across New Brunswick were still waiting for the power to be restored.

Environment Canada meteorologist Mark Pilon said a high wind warning remained in effect Sunday for the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Pilon said winds of up to 100-kilometres an hour could lead to coastal storm surges from Yarmouth, N.S., to Chaleur Bay in northern New Brunswick.

At Halifax Stanfield International Airport, 10 flights were cancelled Saturday and seven others were delayed by the storm.

In New Brunswick, airports in Fredericton and Moncton reported a handful of flight delays.

Saint John Police Sergeant Robert Buck said storm warnings persuaded many people to stay home Saturday, causing many scheduled events around the city to be cancelled.

Organizations: Environment Canada, Red Cross, Halifax Stanfield International Airport

Geographic location: Port Elgin, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia Shediac Prince Edward Island Yarmouth Chaleur Bay Fredericton Moncton Saint John

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