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Canadian authorities search for woman swept to sea by Fiona

Hurricane Fiona's high winds brought down trees throughout Atlantic Canada, causing power, Internet and phone outages. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross
Hurricane Fiona's high winds brought down trees throughout Atlantic Canada, causing power, Internet and phone outages. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Canadian authorities have launched a search for a Newfoundland woman believed to have been swept away from her home as Post-Tropical Storm Fiona brushed past the island.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Sunday that they received a report that the 73-year-old woman was possibly washed to sea around 10 a.m. Saturday. She was last seen inside her Port aux Basques home before a wave struck and tore away part of the structure.

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The Newfoundland SaltWire reported that the woman and another occupant of the residence had been preparing to evacuate the building at the time of the damaging wave.

"She has not been seen since," the RCMP said in a statement. "Due to extreme weather conditions yesterday, a search was not able to be safely conducted."

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The RCMP Tactical Support Group, Canadian Coast Guard, Government Air Services, the Barachois Search and Rescue, and the Stephenville Search and Rescue took part in the efforts to find the woman.

RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland said Saturday that another woman was swept out to sea after the collapse of her home, but bystanders were able to rescue her.

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Hurricane Fiona had been downgraded to a post-tropical storm by time it reached northeast Canada on Friday, knocking out power to more than 400,000 people and causing outages to Internet and phone services.

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The CBC reported the storm destroyed more than 20 homes and displaced hundreds of people. Residents began the cleanup process Sunday morning, searching through the debris for family heirlooms and belongings.

The news outlet reported that the bulk of the damage was caused by powerful storm surge, not winds. The storm may have caused waves as high as about 52 feet.

Environment Canada said Fiona set a record for storm surge at 9 feet, about 3.5 feet higher than normal.

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Public schools have been canceled for affected communities in Nova Scotia province, including Halifax and Cape Breton-Victoria due to power outages and unsafe road conditions, the provincial government announced.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday that the government approved Nova Scotia's request for federal assistance. The Canadian Armed Forces were also deployed to the region for support.

"Hurricane Fiona is having a terrible impact on Atlantic Canada and Quebec," he tweeted. "As Canadians, we will be there for each other -- and as a government, we will match any donations Canadians and corporations make to [Red Cross Canada] over the next 30 days."

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Fiona pummeled Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other areas of the Caribbean last week. In Puerto Rico, more than 1.3 million residents lost power due to the storm. On Sunday, there were more than 770,000 customers without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico on Wednesday and President Joe Biden promised federal funding to the island.

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