Fiona washes houses into sea, tears roofs off others and knocks out power to vast majority of two Canadian provinces, with PM Justin Trudeau warning recovery will require "big effort."

PM Trudeau says federal assistance for Nova Scotia has been approved and military will be deployed to help with clean up.
PM Trudeau says federal assistance for Nova Scotia has been approved and military will be deployed to help with clean up. (AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Fiona has caused significant damage and recovery will require "big effort", after the powerful storm ripped into eastern Canada with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, knocking down trees and powerlines, and reducing many homes on the coast to "just a pile of rubble in the ocean."

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Saturday the centre of the storm, downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was now in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after racing through Nova Scotia.

After taking its toll on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (PEI), the storm battered Newfoundland and Eastern Quebec, but is now likely to weaken, the NHC said.

Trudeau said federal assistance for Nova Scotia has been approved and military will be deployed to help with clean up.

'Most terrifying thing'

Port aux Basques, on the southwest tip of Newfoundland with a population of 4,067, declared a state of emergency and evacuated parts of the town that suffered flooding and road washouts, according to Mayor Brian Button.

Several homes and an apartment building were dragged out to sea, Rene Roy, editor-in-chief of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"This is hands down the most terrifying thing I've ever seen in my life," Roy said, describing many homes as "just a pile of rubble in the ocean right now."

As of midday, some 500,000 homes were left without power across the region as the storm pummeled a wide area, felling countless trees and ripping roofs from buildings.

Fiona, which nearly a week ago battered Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, killed at least eight and knocked out power for virtually all of Puerto Rico's 3.3 million people during a sweltering heat wave.

Fiona made landfall between Canso and Guysborough, Nova Scotia, where the Canadian Hurricane Centre said it recorded what may have been the lowest barometric pressure of any storm to hit land in the country's history.

Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre, told the Reuters news agency it appears Fiona lived up to expectations that it would be a "historical" storm.

"It did look like it had the potential to break the all-time record in Canada, and it looks like it did," he said. "We're still not out of this yet."

Source: Reuters