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'People need to understand there is a storm coming': Officials urge residents to prepare properties as Hurricane Lee looms

Almost a year to the day of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Nova Scotia, Hurricane Lee looms large as it races towards the Maritimes, with the storm expected to make its way into the Bay of Fundy this weekend.

While the storm is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it makes landfall, heavy rain and high winds will be apparent.

“The title really doesn’t matter,” says New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization spokesperson Geoffrey Downey. “People need to understand there is a storm coming, there are going to be high winds and a lot of rain and they need to be taking steps to prepare.”

Downey says the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) has been reaching out to its partners to gauge the level of preparedness in New Brunswick.

Saint John, N.B., contractor Richard Campbell says his phone has been ringing non-stop this week with residents looking for last-second work before the storm.

“It’s been busy,” says Campbell. “Mostly leaks, with the rain we’ve had and stuff like that, and a lot of fear with the heavy rains coming this weekend.”

Winds are expected to whip as high as 100 km/h in the early parts of the storm. Downey says residents should take the time, sooner rather than later, to take a look at their property to see if anything is at risk of being blown away.

“Right now we are hoping that people are looking around their yards, around their properties and saying that could get blown away pretty easily, I should strap that down or find a place to store it indoors somewhere,” says Downey.

Downey also reminds residents how wet the summer has been. The risk of flooding is already going to be high, due to the heavy rains along the world’s highest tides, but things can be done to limit the damage.

“The ground is super saturated right now,” Downey says. “It’s not going to absorb much, so traditionally is your home prone to water problems? Are your gutters clean? Are the storm drains around your home clean? There is a lot of things people can and should be doing right now to make sure things go as smooth as possible this week.”

Downey adds residents should also look at trees on their property to assess any damage that could occur if blown over. He says the real danger, at times, is residents not preparing appropriately.

“We are encouraging everyone to look at the forecast and stay informed,” Downey urges. “Understand what kind of risk they are at, like if their area is prone to localized flooding if there is a lot of rain.”

Lee is currently not projected to have the same power that Fiona did a year ago, but the storm is expected to be larger in size covering all three Maritime Provinces.

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