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Newfoundland braces for Tropical Storm Leslie

Tuesday, September 11, 2012    

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NEWFOUNDLAND, Canada, (AP) — Canadians along the east coast loaded up on emergency supplies and secured patio furniture before the arrival of Tropical Storm Leslie, which is expected to make landfall today in Newfoundland, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said yesterday.

The centre said Leslie could make landfall as a hurricane or a strong tropical storm.

Forecaster Bob Robichaud said wind gusts could reach up to 49 miles per hour (mph) (80 kilometres per hour) in the Cape Breton area and up to 62 mph over the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland.

Robichaud said Leslie is gaining strength as it moves over warm waters, but its massive size may prevent it from reaching hurricane status.

"If it was a smaller storm, there would most definitely be strengthening and we'd almost certainly have a hurricane at landfall," he said. "But given the size of the storm, it takes a lot more to spin it up."

Fire and Emergency Services worked to ensure culverts were cleared and shored up resources to ensure crews are ready to deal with the storm.

Department spokeswoman Cheryl Gullage said citizens have been asked to ensure water pumps are in working order, drains are free of debris and window and door wells are clean. The department also asked Newfoundlanders to remove dead branches from trees and secure patio furniture, barbeque equipment and yard tools.

Patricia Devine, of Clarenville in southeastern Newfoundland, nervously hunkered down just two years after Hurricane Igor caused more than CA$25,000 (US$25,600) in flood damage to her home.

"All over this town trees were down, an awful lot of people got flooded basements. Oh, it was awful," she said. "In fact, I'm very nervous. I'm saying a lot of prayers."

She was among many residents who spent the day buying food, water and gasoline, checking sump pumps, preparing generators, and making sure they had flashlights, batteries and emergency contact numbers

at hand.

Marine Atlantic said it is cancelling ferries between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Red Cross spokesman Dan Bedell said supplies and additional people have been taken to the Burin Peninsula, on the south coast of the island, which is where Hurricane Igor pounded Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane almost two years ago. Igor dumped eight inches of rain and caused CA$200 million (US$204 million) in damages. The hurricane was also blamed for the death of one man.

"Our teams have gone through a similar experience for Igor and the current forecast for this storm is tracking in approximately the same area, but it has very wide effects this time so we're seeing flooding from one end of the province to the other. If that continues, we'll likely have to evacuate that area tomorrow," Bedell said.

Newfoundland's Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O'Brien said 95 per cent of municipalities and regions in the province now have emergency preparedness plans because of Igor.

The hurricane centre said a trough of low pressure had already dumped four inches of rain on parts of western and central Nova Scotia by yesterday morning, with more yet to come as

Leslie approaches.

Evacuation orders were issued for Truro, Nova Scotia, where sheets of heavy rain swamped two rivers, leading to flooding and evacuations in Colchester County.

Weather warnings were in place for Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Bob Taylor, mayor of the Municipality of the County of Colchester, said dikes in both rivers gave way, flooding some roads in and out of Truro and the village of Bible Hill.

Taylor said some people were asked to leave their homes voluntarily, but only a few did so.

He said a high school near Salmon River was evacuated before lunchtime as a precaution.

The Mounties in Nova Scotia warned drivers to slow down after receiving reports of flooding on some roads.

Leslie was located about 366 miles northeast of Bermuda by mid-Monday morning.

Leslie's outer bands buffeted Bermuda on Sunday with gusty winds and rain but caused little damage.

Far out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael was forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by today.

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