Troops come to New Brunswick’s aid following ice storm

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Article / February 7, 2017

By: Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

When Canadians face natural disasters, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is ready to help. Such was the case during the aftermath of the recent ice storm in New Brunswick.

The storm struck on January 24, 2017, breaking trees, pulling down hydro lines, blocking roads, and leaving many stranded. People in the region faced days without power and sometimes heat, which resulted in cases of hypothermia. Several people resorted to dangerous methods of heat and indoor cooking, which resulted in some suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Local emergency workers quickly responded but it soon became clear that they would need outside assistance. When the Province of New Brunswick asked for help last Sunday, the CAF sent about 200 troops who arrived in the area on Monday morning.

The CAF’s arrival was a relief to New Brunswick communities.  “When the army came, the community felt more like the situation was under control,” said Victor Landry, Chief of the Saint-Raphael-Saint-Marie Fire Station in New Brunswick. “They felt more confident.

Once people heard that the military was coming and then saw them arriving, they knew that they were here to provide assistance,” explains Mr. Jules Haché, Mayor of Lamèque, another community affected by the storm. “People were a bit surprised at first, but then they were relieved and happy with the help provided.

After arriving, troops helped emergency workers and volunteer organizations like the Red Cross. They worked in several communities in the region including, Lamèque, Miscou, Saint-Raphael-Saint-Marie, and Tracadie.

Their primary task was going door to door to deliver supplies and check on residents. They checked for carbon monoxide in houses and educated residents about this risk. They also made sure residents were not hypothermic and delivered water, fuel, firewood, and food provided by local organizations. Further, they removed broken trees from  roads to make way for emergency vehicles and supply delivery. Since the beginning of the operation, the troops surveyed more than 1,100 km of roads, visited 5,400 houses, and delivered eight pallets of water and 34 truckloads of firewood.

Major Yohan‎ Leclerc-Desjardins, Task Force Commander of this mission, explains the impact of the troops’ help on New Brunswickers and volunteers.

It’s been a good feeling to see they’re doing better,” he says. “It’s been positive to see the relief in the mayors and volunteers as they’re getting burnt out because they’ve been going non-stop since [the beginning], extremely long hours. And the relief on their faces is nice to see.

For Major Leclerc-Desjardins, the most rewarding aspect of this mission has been saving lives.

Within the first few hours of the guys going door-to-door, they found some people and probably saved some lives,” he explains. The troops found houses where they detected carbon monoxide poisoning and saved the residents. They also discovered a woman becoming hypothermic and were able to stabilize her and warm her up.

Those are two really, really rewarding stories,” Major Leclerc-Desjardins adds. “They’re really the highlights that I see.

CAF troops remained in New Brunswick under Operation LENTUS 17-01 until February 6, 2017, delivering aid and services to those who needed it.

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