Canadian troops assisting in N.L. as region braces for more snow
TORONTO -- Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are in Newfoundland and Labrador to assist with snow removal and help emergency service personnel navigate treacherous road conditions.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan said between 150 and 200 military personnel will be on the ground by the end of the day, a number that could rise to 300 in the coming days.
Two Hercules aircraft and helicopters are also being made available.
“The military is there to provide the support, but the decisions of where they need to go will be done in close coordination with the experts who know the communities and areas of where support is going to be needed,” Sajjan said.
Troops will also help hydro crews restore power, provide transportation for residents to warming or emergency centres, and ensure the elderly are cared for.
People in New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are bracing for an additional 15 to 25 cm of snow that could fall through early Monday.
According to Newfoundland Power, over 1,800 people are without power as of Sunday evening. The company was reporting that over 3,000 residents were in dark Sunday morning.
The biggest challenge facing hydro crews is one the entire province is grappling with – digging out after the biggest storm recorded in Newfoundland’s history.
St. John’s experienced a record-breaking one-day snowfall of 76.2 centimetres during the storm, snapping the previous record of 68.4 centimetres set in 1999. The unbelievable accumulation buried cars and homes, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to be called in.
Stay off the roads, officials urge
Residents in St. John’s are being urged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. While the city remains under a general state of emergency, gas stations and pharmacies were allowed to open Sunday for emergency needs.
“The City is lifting some restrictions although the general state of emergency is still in effect. Gas stations may now open for emergency fuel needs; pharmacies for emergency medication refill; private snow operators may begin work,” read a statement posted to Twitter.
St. John’s airport cleared an airfield for medevac and military aircraft Sunday morning, but said commercial flight operations would not resume until at least 8 p.m.
In addition to snow-blocked roads and high drifts, hydro crews were also left to deal with salt spray and heavy icing on power lines and equipment, making restoration efforts difficult.
Customers without power are being urged not to use outdoor heating sources inside their homes.
“It’s really important to maintain safety,” Dawn Dalley, vice president of corporate and customer services, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, told CTV News Channel Sunday.
“It’s really important for people to use their generators outside, keep them well ventilated, and not bring appliances that generate heat inside the house if there are flames and cause for fire.”
Newfoundlanders remain in good spirits despite storm
Despite struggling to dig out from the record storm, many residents remain in high spirits.
“It’s a beautiful day actually, if we didn’t have 80 to 90 centimeters of snow,” Paradise, N.L. resident Rob Lyver told CTV News Channel, noting that he wasn’t afraid of the additional snowfall in Sunday night’s forecast.
“We’re going to continue moving the snow around and cleaning up… 15 to 20 centimetres is nothing.”
In St. John's, snowboarders made the best of the situation by turning snow-covered streets into slopes.