Maritimes clean up af­ter Do­rian

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

Cana­dian sol­diers armed with chain­saws fanned out across the Hal­i­fax area on Mon­day to help clean up the tan­gled mess of fallen trees and power lines left be­hind by post-trop­i­cal storm Do­rian.

Their high-pro­file de­ploy­ment – car­ried out un­der bright sun­shine – was part of a wider ef­fort to deal with power out­ages that have left much of the Maritimes in the dark for two days.

Util­ity com­pa­nies in Nova Sco­tia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. are fac­ing a mas­sive task in restor­ing elec­tric­ity to hun­dreds of thou­sands of cus­tomers.

In Nova Sco­tia, the prov­ince that sus­tained the most dam­age from Do­rian’s hur­ri­cane-force winds, more than 150,000 homes and busi­nesses were still with­out elec­tric­ity on Mon­day af­ter­noon – down from 400,000 on Sun­day morn­ing.

On Mon­day morn­ing, three of the Cana­dian Army’s light ar­moured ve­hi­cles were dis­patched to a neigh­bour­hood on the east side of Hal­i­fax har­bour, where Lt. Gabriel Picard was tasked with re­mov­ing a large maple tree block­ing a res­i­den­tial street.

“We are here to sup­port the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and to help things re­turn to nor­mal af­ter the pas­sage of hur­ri­cane Do­rian,” said Picard, troop com­man­der with 4 Engi­neer Sup­port Reg­i­ment, based at Cana­dian Forces Base Gage­town in New Brunswick.

“Our main pri­or­ity is to clear the roads and to make sure that peo­ple with­out power are safe.”

How­ever, Picard and his squad couldn’t start cut­ting up the up­rooted tree be­cause its top branches were still tan­gled in util­ity wires on the far side of the street. With­out an elec­tri­cian to en­sure the site was safe, the sol­diers put away their chain­saws and left to take a break.

As their green ar­moured ve­hi­cles rum­bled through Dart­mouth, the sol­diers were greeted with waves and shouts of en­cour­age­ment from chil­dren on the side­walk, en­joy­ing a day off from school.

Dart­mouth resident Sherri MacDonald said she and her neigh­bours were grate­ful for the army’s as­sis­tance.

“When I drove up here a few min­utes ago, it was a lit­tle shock­ing,” she said. “But I’m also re­ally thank­ful that we have all of th­ese folks out clean­ing up our city and help­ing us get things back to nor­mal.”

MacDonald said the storm tem­po­rar­ily cut power to her home on Richards Drive, but her prop­erty was not dam­aged.

“I do know that it wreaked havoc all over the city,” she said. “Peo­ple can’t get to work. The power is out. Lines are down. Trees are block­ing the way. I know that lots of folks had dam­age to their cars and their houses.”

About 300 sol­diers from CFB Gage­town in cen­tral New Brunswick were brought in to help and another 400 “im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion forces” were on standby.

On Sun­day, Nova Sco­tia Power CEO Karen Hutt said the pri­vately owned util­ity was fac­ing a “worst case sce­nario” af­ter Do­rian roared over the mid­dle of the prov­ince. She said that even with the help of util­ity crews from Que­bec, On­tario, New Brunswick, Florida and Maine, it would likely be Wed­nes­day be­fore the lights are back on in all ar­eas of the prov­ince.

Many schools across Nova Sco­tia and Prince Ed­ward Is­land were closed Mon­day, and emer­gency of­fi­cials have been urg­ing peo­ple to stay home – both for their own safety and to give cleanup crews the room they need to work. Pub­lic schools in Nova Sco­tia were to re­main closed Tues­day.

In New Brunswick, more than 80,000 homes and busi­nesses were with­out elec­tric­ity at the peak of the storm on Saturday. NB Power spokesman Marc Bel­liveau said that num­ber had been re­duced to about 7,000 by Mon­day af­ter­noon, and he ex­pected most of those would be re­con­nected by Mon­day night.

On Prince Ed­ward Is­land, Mar­itime Elec­tric said ef­forts to re­store power were slow-go­ing.

“Due to the na­ture of the work, some cus­tomers may be with­out power un­til the end of the week,” the util­ity wrote on its Twitter feed.

In Que­bec’s Iles-de-la-Madeleine, the de­struc­tion went far be­yond prop­erty dam­age. En­tire sec­tions of coastal roads and cliffs were swept away by the wind and waves, ac­cel­er­at­ing a process of ero­sion that has threat­ened homes, tourist at­trac­tions and in­fra­struc­ture in re­cent years.

Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Genevieve Guil­bault ac­knowl­edged that ero­sion has be­come a con­cern for the ar­chi­pel­ago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and said work was be­gin­ning im­me­di­ately to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas.

Mean­while, many mari­nas around the Maritimes were left bat­tered by Do­rian’s storm surges.

Boat own­ers at the She­diac Bay Yacht Club in New Brunswick were as­sess­ing dam­age Mon­day af­ter strong winds and waves tossed boats around like toys.

“This is the worst we have ever seen,” said Gilles Brine, a mem­ber of the club’s ex­ec­u­tive. “There are three boats that are on the rocks from the ma­rina side, and on the slip side, there are about 20 boats that are on top of each other.”

In Nova Sco­tia, one of the most dra­matic scenes dur­ing Saturday’s storm was the col­lapse of a crane in down­town Hal­i­fax, which raised questions about pre­pared­ness at the con­struc­tion site.

Video shared on so­cial me­dia shows the crane col­laps­ing into the side of an empty apart­ment build­ing un­der con­struc­tion by WM Fares Group. No one was in­jured, but the Nova Sco­tia Labour Depart­ment is con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and a stop work or­der has been is­sued.

CP PHO­TOS

Above, A top­pled build­ing crane is draped over a new con­struc­tion project in Hal­i­fax on Sun­day. Right, mem­bers of the 4 Engi­neer Sup­port Reg­i­ment from Camp Gage­town as­sist in the cleanup in Hal­i­fax on Mon­day.

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