Why Somalia’s drought and looming food crisis require an innovative response

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Updated 22 September 2022

Why Somalia’s drought and looming food crisis require an innovative response

Why Somalia’s drought and looming food crisis require an innovative response
  • Presidential Envoy for Drought Response tells Arab News “famine could be here as soon as October”
  • Abdirahman Abdishakur says “humanitarian support is vital but it cannot be a permanent solution”

NEW YORK CITY: Just a few months ago, Somalia was promised a new era. After a peaceful vote and an equally peaceful transfer of power, many had hoped that a line had been drawn under decades of clan divisions, factious politics, heightened tensions between Mogadishu and the regions, and a persistent extremist presence.

In recent years, Somalia recorded encouraging economic growth as well, lifting the hopes of the international community further. 

A new president, whose election had crowned a period of hope that saw the drafting of a new provisional constitution, the establishment of a federal government, and the subsequent formation of five new federal member states, had promised to focus on national reconciliation and on further political and financial reforms.

James Swan, the UN special representative to Somalia, had told the Security Council that Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s presidency offered a “long-awaited opportunity to advance urgent national priorities.”

Yet it is not because of this progress that Somalia is set to be a major focus of this year’s 77th session of the UN General Assembly. Once again, the country finds itself facing a state of alarming emergency resulting from multiple, overlapping crises.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization has predicted that the Horn of Africa is likely to face a fifth consecutive failed rainy season over the months of October to December. Somalia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and is ill-equipped to cope with this drought, the worst it has experienced in 40 years.

There is no end in sight, many say. Five years of drought have depleted the country’s water levels, leading to crop failure, with agricultural production falling 70 percent below average. More than 3 million livestock have perished. The animals that remained are now emaciated.

And getting aid to those in need remains a tremendous challenge. Some areas are hard to reach owing to poor road infrastructure. Others are under the control of Al-Shabab, an uncompromising, unpopular group with links to Al-Qaeda.




A mother gives water to her child at a camp for displaced persons in Baidoa, Somalia. Hungry people are heading to Baidoa from rural areas of southern Somalia, one of the regions hardest hit by drought. (AFP)

A deadly insurgency by Al-Shabab against the federal government has resulted in humanitarian aid convoys being attacked. In a vicious cycle, the scarcity that Al-Shabab is exacerbating is in turn leading to more young Somalis being vulnerable to recruitment.

Then came the war in Ukraine, the reverberations from which have been deeply felt in the Horn of Africa. The resultant spike in global grain prices has pushed millions of Somalis to leave their homes and look for food, carrying starving and malnourished children on the way.

Only those who are physically capable of leaving have left, however. As for the most vulnerable, the children, Somalia’s newest generation, they are perishing.

“Food insecurity is a global problem,” Abdirahman Abdishakur, Somalia’s special presidential envoy for drought response, told Arab News.

“The whole world has been affected by disruptions to global supply chains of grain, fertilizer and fuel arising from the conflict in Ukraine. Much like the rest of the world, Somalia has also been affected.

“The difference for Somalia is that this crisis is coming on top of many others that the country has been reeling from for decades.”

UN reports indicate that some communities, particularly agro-pastoral populations in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts and displaced people in the Baidoa town of the Bay region, will experience famine starting in October if aid is not immediately scaled up.

Abdishakur is in New York City to lobby and urge donors, the international community, and the Somali diaspora to support the drought response “before it is too late.”

Various UN bodies, including children’s fund UNICEF, the World Food Program, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, have repeatedly warned that the emergency shows no signs of letting up.

In a statement, the FAO said that “without action, famine will occur within the next few weeks,” adding that drought-related deaths had already been occurring and the toll could be much higher in hard-to-reach rural areas, compared with the number recorded in camps for displaced families.

During the famine of 2011, 340,000 Somali children required treatment for severe acute malnutrition, James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson, said in Geneva, Switzerland. “Today it’s 513,000. It’s a pending nightmare we have not seen this century.”




Abdirahman Abdishakur, Somalia's special presidential envoy, has called for an immediate global response to the country's food crisis. (Supplied)

According to the FAO, approximately 6.7 million people in Somalia will likely endure high levels of acute food insecurity between October and December this year, including more than 300,000 who have been left “empty-handed” by the country’s triple emergency and who are expected to fall into famine.

Abdishakur said: “Needs have escalated, and funds remain below what is required. The window for the international community is literally now. If the world doesn’t scale up assistance, famine could be here as soon as October.”

Although such dire predictions have thrown Somalia into the limelight, famine projections were actually made back in March.

“Many governments have increased their funding over the course of the drought, and we are very grateful. However, the need for adequate levels of funding to contain the initial emergency was not met, allowing the situation to spiral into the crisis we are experiencing today,” he added.

Now, Abdishakur is leading a call for a more aggressive humanitarian response to the crisis to save as many lives as possible.

“The sheer severity of the situation demands a more aggressive, innovative, and tangible reaction from the international community,” he said. And he called on the international community to “rally in the spirit of humanitarian diplomacy” and increase their contributions “before it’s too late.”

“No one should be dying from starvation in 2022. In this world of staggering wealth, skills and knowledge, there should be enough support to go around,” he added.




A child sleeps in a makeshift tent at Muuri camp in Baidoa, one of 500 camps for displaced persons. (AFP)

It is not the first or even 10th time that an emergency appeal has been made for Somalia to donor countries, and Abdishakur noted that it would not be the last if the same approach continued to be taken each year by Somalia’s government or the international community.

He said: “I do not want to be knocking on doors again in five years’ time or ever. Around 1 billion dollars is spent on aid to our country annually yet needs continue to increase. Humanitarian support is vital during a crisis, but it cannot be a permanent solution.”

Somalis are aware of the progress they had begun to get a taste for, but now fear that their country’s full potential will not be achieved.

According to experts, had that potential been utilized, Somalia could have contributed to food security and sustainable energy production in the Horn of Africa and the world.

As the presidential envoy for drought response, Abdishakur is advocating a new way of working aimed at ultimately ending the cycle of hunger and suffering that focuses on long-term adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change.

Along with the urgent funds needed to save lives, he has called for investments that focus on fighting food insecurity, help foster livelihoods, and build infrastructure, especially roads.

He said that between 20 and 40 percent of agricultural produce in Somalia was lost in transportation because of poor roads.

FASTFACT

• A famine is an acute episode of extreme lack of food characterized by starvation, widespread deaths, destitution, and extremely critical levels of acute malnutrition.

“Somalia needs partnerships that make its people thrive by continuing to live their traditional way of life with some added climate-adaptive and mitigation practices,” Abdishakur said

“Somalia has resources. We have minerals, rivers, wind, and natural gas. We have the longest coastline in Africa. We have a large agro-pastoral population, who live off ample pasture and export livestock to global markets when drought is not scorching their land.

“To break away from recurrent crises, we need the international community to understand the importance of building the resilience of our people to climate, economic, and security shocks.

“Along with urgently saving lives, international engagement in Somalia must contribute to livelihoods, develop vital modern infrastructure like roads and irrigation channels, and help families adapt to a new climate reality.”

Looking to the future, Abdishakur said: “We know that our government has a long way to go but we are committed to ending this crisis and stopping the cycle, including through improvements to the way we function, our transparency, and accountability.

“Our request to the international community, and any group with relevant expertise and resources, is to work with our government to urgently save lives today and make sustainable investments in the Somalia of tomorrow.”


Giorgia Meloni’s far-right triumphs in Italy vote

Giorgia Meloni’s far-right triumphs in Italy vote
Updated 8 sec ago

Giorgia Meloni’s far-right triumphs in Italy vote

Giorgia Meloni’s far-right triumphs in Italy vote
  • Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government

ROME: Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni won big in Italian elections on Sunday, the first projections suggested, putting her euroskeptic populists on course to take power at the heart of Europe.
Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government since the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II.
Projections published by the Rai public broadcaster and Quorum/YouTrend both put Brothers of Italy on top, at between 24 and 26 percent of the vote, with Meloni favorite to become her country’s first female prime minister.
The result must still be confirmed but risks fresh trouble for the European Union, just weeks after the far-right outperformed in elections in Sweden.
Meloni, who campaigned on a motto of “God, country and family,” has abandoned her calls for one of Europe’s biggest economies to leave the eurozone, but says Rome must assert its interests more in Brussels.
Her allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, lagged behind her. But the coalition was forecast to win around 43 percent, enough to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.
Brothers of Italy and the League “look to get, together, the highest percentage of votes ever registered by (far) right parties in the history of Western Europe since 1945,” Italian electoral studies center CISE said.
The center-left Democratic Party, the coalition’s main rivals, later conceded defeat, with vice president Debora Serracchiani saying it was a “sad evening for the country.”

Congratulations came in quickly from Meloni’s nationalist allies around Europe, from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Spain’s far-right party Vox.
“Meloni has shown the way for a proud, free Europe of sovereign nations,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal tweeted.
Turnout was lower than in the 2018 elections, at around 64 percent, down from 73 percent.
Meloni had been leading opinion polls since Prime Minister Mario Draghi called snap elections in July following the collapse of his national unity government.
Hers was the only party not to join Draghi’s coalition when, in February 2021, the former European Central Bank chief was parachuted in to lead a country still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
From a “very aggressive” opposition strategy under Draghi, Meloni then chose a “very cautious, very reassuring campaign,” CISE head Lorenzo De Sio told AFP.
“Her challenge will be to turn this electoral success into a governing leadership... that can last,” he said.
Italian politics are notoriously unstable, with nearly 70 governments since 1946, and Meloni, Salvini and Berlusconi do not always agree.
Meloni’s “dissatisfied and essentially defeated allies” would likely be a “problem,” the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.
The League and Forza Italia looked to have performed poorly, taking eight percent each, down from 17 and 14 percent respectively in 2018.
Salvini, who has been eclipsed by Meloni, was the first to react to the coalition’s projected win, tweeting “Grazie! (Thanks!)“

Meloni — whose experience of government has been limited to a stint as a minister in Berlusconi’s 2008 government — has major challenges ahead.
Italy is suffering rampant inflation while an energy crisis looms this winter, linked to the conflict in Ukraine.
The Italian economy, the third largest in the eurozone, is also saddled with a debt worth 150 percent of gross domestic product.
Brothers of Italy has roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of Benito Mussolini, and Meloni herself praised the dictator when she was young.
She has sought to distance herself from the past as she built up her party into a political force, going from just four percent of the vote in 2018 to Sunday’s projected triumph.
Her coalition campaigned on a platform of low taxes, an end to mass immigration, Catholic family values and an assertion of Italy’s nationalist interests abroad.
They want to renegotiate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, arguing that the almost 200 billion euros Italy is set to receive should take into account the energy crisis.
But the funds are tied to a series of reforms only just begun by Draghi.

Despite her euroskepticism, Meloni strongly supports the EU’s sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, although her allies are another matter.
Berlusconi, the billionaire former premier who has long been friends with Vladimir Putin, faced an outcry this week after suggesting the Russian president was “pushed” into war by his entourage.
A straight-speaking Roman raised by a single mother in a working-class neighborhood, Meloni rails against what she calls “LGBT lobbies,” “woke ideology” and “the violence of Islam.”
She has vowed to stop the tens of thousands of migrants who arrive on Italy’s shores each year.
The Democratic Party had warned Meloni would pose a serious risk to hard-won rights such as abortion and will ignore global warming, despite Italy being on the front line of the climate emergency.
 


China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
Updated 28 min 53 sec ago

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
  • Nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members
  • The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee, currently comprising seven people

BEIJING: China’s Communist Party said Sunday that it had elected all the delegates attending a key political meeting starting October 16, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.
The twice-in-a-decade conclave will also see a shuffle of personnel on the party’s powerful decision-making body, the 25-member Politburo.
“Each electoral unit across the country convened a party congress or party representative meeting and elected 2,296 delegates to the 20th Party Congress,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The delegates must adhere to Xi’s political ideology in addition to the party constitution, CCTV said.
The representatives include women, ethnic minority party members and those specializing in various fields, such as economics, science and sports, CCTV said.
The congress in the capital Beijing comes as Xi faces significant political headwinds, including an ailing economy, deteriorating relations with the United States and a strict zero-Covid policy that has accelerated China’s inward turn from the world.

The congress is the most important date on China’s political calendar. It offers signposts on the direction the world’s second-largest economy will take in the near term and the extent of the sway that Xi has over the party with millions of members.
The nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will engage in a highly choreographed exercise to pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members.
The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee — China’s highest leadership body and apex of power, currently comprising seven people.
Voting is mostly a formality — the pecking order of the Politburo and its Standing Committee is likely to have been decided well in advance. The overall duration of the congress is not yet clear.

Xi’s decade-long tenure has seen crackdowns on corruption within the party — which analysts say served to take down his political rivals — as well as the crushing of a democracy movement in Hong Kong and strict lockdowns on cities in the name of curbing the coronavirus.
He has faced harsh human rights criticism from the international community over repressive policies in the northwestern Xinjiang region, where an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorites have been detained in a sweeping crackdown ostensibly targeting “terrorism.”
He also ushered in an assertive “Wolf Warrior” foreign policy that has alienated Western democracies and some regional neighbors, and has pushed for closer ties with Russia while stoking nationalism at home.
He abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018 — originally set up by former leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s to prevent another Mao-like dictatorship — leaving open the possibility of him becoming leader for life.
 


Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
Updated 17 min 4 sec ago

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
  • Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world
  • Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at UNGA upset French activists

PARIS: Police clashed with demonstrators trying to reach Iran’s embassies in London and Paris on Sunday.
French police used tear gas and employed anti-riot tactics to prevent hundreds of people protesting in the capital from marching on Tehran’s diplomatic mission, AFP reporters and eyewitnesses said.
In London, police said they made 12 arrests and five officers were “seriously injured” as demonstrators tried to break through barriers protecting Iran’s UK embassy.
The protesters in Paris had gathered for the second day running to express outrage at the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police — and to show solidarity with the protests that have erupted in Iran, at a cost of at least 41 lives.
Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world.
The demonstration had began peacefully at Trocadero Square in the center of the French capital. Some protesters chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” and slogans against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But police in full anti-riot armor, backed by a line of vans, blocked the path of the protesters as they sought to approach the Iranian embassy a short distance away.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
In a statement, Paris police said that “on several occasions groups tried to break through the roadblock set up near the Iranian embassy. The police used... tear gas to repel them.”
They said about 4,000 people had gathered for the demonstration. One person was arrested for “outrage and rebellion” and one officer was slightly hurt, said police.
The use of tear gas angered activists already upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.
“Police used tear gas to disperse Iranian protesters in Paris in an effort to protect the Islamic Republic embassy,” tweeted the US-based Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.
“Meanwhile, @EmmanuelMacron shook hands with the murderous president of Iran.”
Protesters also repeated the viral Persian chants used by protesters inside Iran such as “zan, zendegi, azadi!” (woman, life, freedom!) and also its Kurdish equivalent “jin, jiyan, azadi!” Amini, also known as Jhina Amini, was Kurdish.
“In view of what is happening, we Iranians are fully mobilized,” said Nina, a Paris-based French Iranian who asked that her last name was not given. “We must react given that we are far from our homeland, our country.
“It’s really time we all come together so we can really speak up so the whole world can really hear our voice,” she added.
Similarly tense scenes took place in London, where images posted on social media showed protesters seeking to break through police security barriers outside the Iranian embassy there.
London’s Metropolitan Police said “masonry, bottles and other projectiles were thrown and a number of officers were injured. At least five are in hospital with injuries including broken bones.”
Earlier, police said a large number of protesters had gathered outside the embassy “with a substantial group intent on causing disorder.”


US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine
Updated 26 September 2022

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

US warns of catastrophic consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine
  • Warning follows Russian threats to use nuclear weapons amid Ukraine's battlefield successes
  • Third day of voting in referendums in Ukrainian regions seized by Russia

KYIV, Ukraine: The US warned on Sunday of “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow were to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, after Russia’s foreign minister said regions holding widely-criticized referendums would get full protection if annexed by Moscow.
Votes in four eastern Ukrainian regions, aimed at annexing territory Russia has taken by force, were staged for a third day on Sunday. The Russian parliament could move to formalize the annexation within days.
By incorporating the areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into Russia, Moscow could portray efforts to retake them as attacks on Russia itself, a warning to Kyiv and its Western allies.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United States would respond to any Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and that it had spelled out to Moscow the “catastrophic consequences” it would face.
“If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively,” Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” television program.
The latest US warning followed a thinly veiled nuclear threat made on Wednesday by President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia would use any weapons to defend its territory.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the point more directly at a news conference on Saturday after a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York in which he repeated Moscow’s false claims to justify the invasion that the elected government in Kyiv was illegitimately installed and filled with neo-Nazis.
Asked if Russia would have grounds for using nuclear weapons to defend annexed regions, Lavrov said Russian territory, including territory “further enshrined” in Russia’s constitution in the future, “is under the full protection of the state.”

’Bogus threats’
Ukraine and its allies have dismissed the referendums as a sham designed to justify an escalation of the war and a mobilization drive by Moscow after recent battlefield losses.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss said Britain and its allies should not heed threats from Putin, who had made what she called a strategic mistake as he had not anticipated the strength of reaction from the West.
“We should not be listening to his saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians,” Truss told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Russian news agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying the Russian parliament could debate bills to incorporate the new territories as soon as Thursday. State-run RIA Novosti said Putin could address parliament on Friday.

Russia says the referendums, hastily organized after Ukraine recaptured territory in a counter-offensive this month, enable people in those regions to express their view.
The territory controlled by Russian forces in the four regions represents about 15 percent of Ukraine, an area roughly the size of Portugal. It would add to Crimea, an area nearly the size of Belgium that Russia claims to have annexed in 2014.
Ukrainian forces still control some territory in each of the regions, including around 40 percent of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia’s provincial capital. Heavy fighting continued along the entire front, especially in northern Donetsk and in Kherson.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who insists that Ukraine will regain all its territory, said on Sunday there had been “positive results” for Kyiv in some of the clashes. “This is the Donetsk region, this is our Kharkiv region. This is the Kherson region, and also the Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia regions,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement on Facebook that Russia had launched four missile and seven air strikes and 24 instances of shelling on targets in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, hitting dozens of towns, including in and around the Donetsk and Kherson regions.
Reuters could not independently verify the accounts.

Protests in Russia over drafts
Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II. The move triggered protests across Russia and sent many men of military age fleeing.
Two of Russia’s most senior lawmakers on Sunday addressed a string of complaints about the mobilization, ordering regional officials to swiftly solve “excesses” stoking public anger.
More than 2,000 people have been detained across Russia for protesting against the draft, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. In Russia, where criticism of the conflict is banned, the demonstrations are among the first signs of discontent since the war began.
In the Muslim-majority southern Russian region of Dagestan, police clashed with protesters, with at least 100 people detained.
Zelensky acknowledged the protests in his video address.
“Keep on fighting so that your children will not be sent to their deaths — all those that can be drafted by this criminal Russian mobilization,” he said. “Because if you come to take away the lives of our children — and I am saying this as a father — we will not let you get away alive.”


Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found

Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found
Updated 26 September 2022

Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found

Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found
  • Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland

TORONTO: Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials said they found the body of a woman swept into the sea after former Hurricane Fiona swept away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces.
After surging north from the Caribbean, Fiona came ashore before dawn Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone, battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec with hurricane-strength winds, rains and waves.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said troops would help remove fallen trees, restore transportation links and do whatever else is required for as long as it takes. She didn’t specify how many troops would be deployed.
Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, and one death in Canada. Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland.
Police said the woman inside her residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a release on social media that with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard, as other rescue teams her body woman was recovered late Sunday afternoon.
Police said the woman was last seen inside the residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement.
As of Sunday, more than 252,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 82,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island — about 95 percent of the total — remained in the dark. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80 percent in the province of almost 1 million people — had been affected by outages Saturday.
Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said Sunday that over 200 people were in temporary shelters. Over 70 roads were completely inaccessible in her region. She said she couldn’t count the number of homes damaged in her own neighborhood.
She said it was critical for the military to arrive and help clear debris, noting that the road to the airport is inaccessible and the tower has significant damage.
McDougall said it is amazing there are no injuries.
“People listened to the warnings and did what they were supposed to do and this was the result,” she said
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said that over 100 military personnel would arrive Sunday to assist in recovery efforts. Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. He said many bridges are destroyed.
“The magnitude and severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” King said, and that it would take a “herculean effort by thousands of people” to recover over the coming days and weeks.
Kim Griffin, a spokeswoman for Prince Edward Island’s electricity provider, said it would likely take “many days” to restore power across the island. She added that she was “terrified” that people could be injured or killed by downed power lines as they tried to clean up the storm damage.
Entire structures were washed into the sea as raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.
“This is not a one-day situation where we can all go back to normal,” Mayor Brian Button said on social media. Unfortunately, this is going to take days, it could take weeks, it could take months in some cases.”
Much of the town of 4,000 had been evacuated and Button said asked for patience as officials identify where and when people can safely go home. He noted that some residents are showing up at barricades angry and wanting to return.
In Puerto Rico, too, officials were still struggling to grasp the scope of damage and to repair the devastation caused when Fiona hit the US territory a week ago.
As of Sunday, about 45 percent of Puerto Rico’s 1.47 million power customers remained in the dark, and 20 percent of 1.3 million water customers had no service as workers struggled to reach submerged power substations and fix downed lines.
Gas stations, grocery stores and other businesses had temporarily shut down due to lack of fuel for generators: The National Guard first dispatched fuel to hospitals and other critical infrastructure.
“We’re starting from scratch,” said Carmen Rivera as she and her wife mopped up water and threw away their damaged appliances, adding to piles of rotting furniture and soggy mattresses lining their street in Toa Baja, which had flooded.
Officials across Eastern Canada also were assessing the scope of damage caused by the storm, which had moved inland over southeastern Quebec.
Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax, said the roof of an apartment building collapsed in Nova Scotia’s biggest city and officials had moved 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt.
The Canadian Hurricane Center tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure — a key sign of storm strength — ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada.
“We’re getting more severe storms more frequently,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said more resilient infrastructure is needed to withstand extreme weather events.
Peter MacKay, a former foreign and defense minister who lives in Nova Scotia, said he had never seen anything to match Fiona, with winds raging through the night and into the afternoon.
“We had put everything we could out of harm’s way, but the house got hammered pretty hard. Lost lots of shingles, heavy water damage in ceilings, walls, our deck is destroyed. A garage that I was building blew away,” MacKay said in an email to The Associated Press.