Military arrives in Igor-stricken Newfoundland
Military ships, helicopters and trucks arrived in Newfoundland Saturday, bringing equipment and personnel to help people stranded in coastal communities pummeled by hurricane Igor.
The military support arrived as RCMP confirmed that a body found buried under debris on a beach was that of 80-year-old Allan Duffett, who was swept out to sea when the road beneath him collapsed in the Random Island area, about 100 kilometres northwest of St. John's.
Igor struck eastern Newfoundland with winds as high as 170 kilometres per hour and rainfall in some places of more than 200 millimetres Tuesday.
At the height of the storm, power was out to more than 50,000 people and 30 communities had declared a state of emergency. Power lines were toppled and roads throughout the region were washed out or submerged.
Several thousand residents were still without power Saturday, but Newfoundland and Labrador Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson says the recovery effort is making "steady progress."
"Municipalities from all reports seem to be coping very, very well with their respective issues," Hedderson said at a news conference in St. John's Saturday.
"We've been in contact now with upwards of 200 municipalities, and, again, we seem to be able to get from them that they are coping very, very well."
As the cleanup continues, the deputy commander of Canada's Land Force Atlantic Area, Brig.-Gen. Tony Stack, says his troops are there to provide support.
The provincial government, Stack said, "has achieved a great deal in a very short time."
Based out of the hard-hit community of Clarenville, four regiments of army engineers will focus first on rebuilding a pair of bridges in the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas.
Three ships, the HMCS St. John's, the HCMS Fredericton and the HMCS Montreal are currently off the coast supporting Sea King helicopter operations. But Stack noted the operation has the full support of the Department of National Defence.
That means a host of untapped capabilities are on standby, Stack explained. "When we get tasked by the provincial government then we'll utilize that as well."
Hedderson told reporters the military presence "gives us a sense of security that we can fall back, especially with the capacity for water," he said. "We're certainly looking forward to working with them, and what it adds is a dimension of getting to some of these areas and isolated communities quicker and getting them on stream."
During a visit to the region on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the military will deliver aid and food, water, fuel and medical aid to some communities, and repair bridges and roads where needed. Personnel will also remove downed power lines, deliver generators and provide medical evacuations if necessary, he added.
"I've never seen any flooding like this. I've never seen damage like this in Canada," the prime minister said during a visit with N.L. Premier Danny Williams to the town of Trouty. "It's a pretty tough cleanup going on here."
Atlantic Canada's hurricane season generally runs from June through November.
With files from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao and The Canadian Press