PM sends military to help Newfoundland after storm
The Canadian Forces are deploying to help cleanup efforts in eastern Newfoundland after hurricane Igor swept past the province, washing out roads and downing power lines, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.
Harper returned from a tour of two communities hit hard by the storm to announce that the province had formally requested assistance in dealing with its aftermath.
With some towns running out of supplies there have been growing calls in the last days for more government help.
Harper said the military will deliver 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 in the town of Trouty. "It's a pretty tough cleanup going on here."
Media reports have indicated that three Canadian navy ships are standing by to help with cleanup efforts, with one vessel already docked in St. John's. Two helicopters have also reportedly been deployed to help.
Harper arrived in Newfoundland after wrapping up a visit to the United Nations in New York City. He visited the communities of Trouty and Britannia, along the province's eastern shore, along with Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams and Senator Fabian Manning.
Williams assured residents still cut off from the rest of the province that help was on its way, but he pleaded for patience "because the magnitude of the damage here is widespread ... It's in centre of the island to the east and south coast."
Several thousand residents remain without power in the province three days after hurricane Igor passed by Newfoundland's east coast, with winds topping 163 kilometres per hour.
Some areas received as much as 240 millimetres of rain -- that's about a foot of water in less than a day -- washing out roads and causing widespread flooding.
At the height of the storm, trees were downed across Newfoundland and power was out to 50,000 people and 30 communities had declared states of emergency.
Igor is thought to have caused more damage than tropical storm Chantal in 2007, which left a $25-million bill in its wake.
One person also died. Allen Duffett, 80, was swept out to sea from Random Island, near Britannia. Police have been searching for his body but say they do not know how far he may have been carried, and poor weather has hampered their efforts.
Meanwhile, Newfoundland residents continue to clean up and dig out from what many are calling the worst storm they can remember. Work crews have been clearing downed trees across St. John's, and residents in the hard-hit community of Marystown, on the Burin peninsula, have been working to dry out hundreds of flooded homes.
"You've got some small communities here that are cut off, where there are half-a-dozen washouts between the town and the road," CTV's John Vennavally-Rao reported by phone from St. John's.
He visited one such community, Hodge's Cove, where he said residents were using boats to restock dwindling supplies and to get people in need of medical attention to hospital.
"As people get out and see the extent of the damage, it's becoming very clear this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of storm for the province," he said.
The provincial government has said it will fast-track repairs to places hit hard by Igor. Tom Hedderson, the minister responsible for emergency preparedness, says repairing road links is the first priority.
Newfoundland Power says it hopes to have the electricity grid fully restored by Saturday.
With files from The Canadian Press