National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says there will be 150-200 military personnel on the ground by the end of Sunday to help with the blizzard recovery in eastern Newfoundland.
Sajjan, along with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, spoke to reporters in Winnipeg on Sunday. Sajjan said the number of active duty personnel coming to the province could surge to 250-300 by the end of Monday.
Sajjan didn’t have details on the exact tasks the military will perform. That will be left to the experts on the ground. Sajjan says the active duty personnel will likely come from Fredericton, but reservists who live in Newfoundland communities have also been activated. Sajjan didn’t have an exact number of reservists, but he said the response would likely be “company-sized,” which could be about 80-150 personnel.
A Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules aircraft and possibly two Griffon helicopters will also be provided.
The Canadian Armed Forces also provided an update overnight about how it will support blizzard recovery in Newfoundland.
Efforts will focus on snow removal, transporting people to warming centres, assisting seniors, and supporting search and rescue operations. The most recent numbers form Newfoundland Power had about 3,000 people without power.
St. John’s International Airport can handle military and medevac flights, bommercial operations won’t resume until 8 p.m. Monday.
“Our expected tasks will be to assist with snow removal, provide residents with transportation to warming or emergency centres, and ensure the elderly and those with health concerns are cared for,” Canadian Armed Forces Operations announced on Twitter early Sunday morning. “We stand with Canadians in their time of need. Your community is also our community.
“As we work closely with federal and provincial levels of government, we are also taking steps to pre-position military aircraft, equipment and personnel so that work can begin in the affected communities as early as Sunday.
“This also includes enhancing our ability to conduct search and rescue operations out of Gander, Newfoundland. The deployment of personnel on Operation LENTUS 20-1, will rely heavily on our Reserve Force personnel who reside in the communities hit hardest.
“For those who answer the call, we appreciate your dedication. Elements of Joint Task Force Atlantic’s Immediate Response Unit, based out of Gagetown, N.B., and Royal Canadian Air Force assets throughout Canada will also contribute to the CAF’s response to this situation.”
Meanwhile, more snow is on the way Sunday evening. NTV’s Eddie Sheerr is predicting another 10-20 centimetres overnight.