Emergency crews fly to storm-battered Que. islands cut off from mainland
Montreal snow removal crews clearing the sidewalk in Montreal, Quebec on Sunday, February 4, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mario Beauregard
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 30, 2018 10:00AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2018 11:57AM EST
QUEBEC -- A Canadian Forces plane was expected in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine Friday afternoon, carrying supplies and personnel to help residents who were cut off from the rest of the province when a fierce winter storm struck Wednesday.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted that a Hercules aircraft is en route and he is keeping close watch on the situation.
"At present, the Canadian Armed Forces will be providing airlift support and up to 250 CAF personnel to assist in conducting health and welfare patrols and provide assistance to officials in the evacuation of residents if required," he said in a statement.
It is expected to land this afternoon after stops to pick up equipment and personnel in Montreal and Quebec City.
Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said the emergency was beyond the provincial government's capacity to respond so it was necessary to turn to Ottawa.
Speaking to reporters in Quebec City on Friday, she said the Canadian Forces team will be able to quickly determine the needs on the ground.
Guilbault said Hydro-Quebec crews managed to land late Thursday and are working to repair downed wires that have left at least 2,000 homes without power.
Heavy winds knocked out Internet and cellular phone service, but late Thursday Quebec civil security said telecommunications had been partly restored. The network remained fragile and residents were asked to limit Internet use.
In the aftermath of the storm, residents of the islands were able to call each other on land lines, but couldn't contact the mainland because of damage to underwater cables. Winds of up to 130 km/h and rough seas battered the islands Wednesday, with high winds continuing into Thursday.
Technicians were able to restore partial Internet and cellular service through one of the damaged cables, Guilbault said. "It's important to establish a satellite telecommunications network so that people can communicate with the mainland," she added.
Quebec provincial police have been going door-to-door to check on those without power. Sgt. Claude Doiron says a fire burned a low-cost housing complex to the ground Thursday morning, leaving about 40 people homeless. No one was seriously injured.
Guilbault said ferry service is expected to resume Friday, which will allow more support to get to the islands.
Emergency shelters have also been established for those needing a place to stay.