Operation LENTUS

CAF response to forest fires, floods, and natural disasters in Canada

When a major natural disaster occurs in Canada, provincial and territorial authorities are the first to respond. If the province or territory becomes overwhelmed by the disaster, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is ready to help. This assistance is known as Operation LENTUS.

Operation LENTUS follows an established plan of action to support the affected communities. This plan can be adapted to the unique situations that may occur, such as forest fires, floods, or hurricanes.

The objectives of Op LENTUS are:

  • to help provincial and territorial authorities
  • to respond quickly and effectively to the disaster
  • to stabilize the natural disaster situation

Attention: Latest news about flooding in Quebec

CAF personnel have been deployed to support Quebec citizens in four flood-affected regions: Montérégie, Outaouais, Mauricie and Montréal. On May 12, 2017, the CAF’s emergency response to support the Province of Quebec reached peak strength with approximately 2600 personnel from the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy in these regions.

As the water recedes, the CAF is transitioning from supporting the Province’s emergency needs to supporting the Province’s recovery phase. As the number of requests for assistance from the regions decrease, fewer CAF members are required and the total troop strength will also gradually decrease from peak strength. This allows many CAF reservists to return to their civilian employment and other specialized CAF assets such as helicopters and small boats to return to their home bases.

Timeline:

  • May 5, 2017: Within one hour of Public Safety receiving a request for assistance, the CAF sent liaison officers and reconnaissance elements to four regional coordination centres. There, they met with provincial partners to determine how the CAF could help.
  • May 6, 2017: An immediate response unit of 400 military personnel departed CFB Valcartier to begin assisting in the four affected regions. The CAF also sent additional personnel to the regional coordination centres to pave the way for additional waves of troops preparing to leave Valcartier.
  • May 7, 2017: Hundreds more troops departed Valcartier. Total troop strength reached approximately 1650 spread out over the four affected regions.
  • May 8, 2017: The CAF put additional troops and equipment on standby to help if needed. These consisted of about 470 personnel from 31, 32, and 33 Canadian Brigade Group Domestic Response Companies, plus a Composite Reserve Engineer Squadron.
  • May 9, 2017: By this date, approximately 1830 military personnel were supporting flood relief.
  • May 10, 2017: The approximately 470 personnel that were on standby moved into affected areas and began assisting in flood relief. These troops were from 31, 32, and 33 Canadian Brigade Group Domestic Response Companies, plus a Composite Reserve Engineer Squadron. By the end of the day on May 10, 2017, approximately 2200 military personnel were supporting Operation LENTUS. More troops were deployed for the operation in Quebec than the rest of all CAF operations around the world combined.
  • May 11, 2017: HMCS Montréal arrived in Trois-Rivières.  Approximately 160 personnel of the ship’s company joined the CAF troops already on the ground to support the citizens in this affected area. HMCS Montréal was originally anticipated to arrive in its namesake city this week to celebrate the 375th Anniversary of the City of Montreal. The Royal Canadian Air Force had seven aircraft assisting the province: six CH-146 Griffons and one CH-147 Chinook helicopter. 
  • May 12, 2017: Overall troop strength reached approximately 2600. Operations related to sandbagging, construction and reinforcement of dikes, patrolling and monitoring water levels in the affected areas continued.
  • May 13, 2017: Operations related to sandbagging, construction and reinforcement of dikes, patrolling and monitoring water levels continued in the affected areas. Approximately 120 soldiers from Royal 22e Régiment arrived in Mauricie to ensure support as HMCS Montréal departed Trois-Riveres for Montreal.
  • May 14, 2017: HMCS Montréal arrived in Montreal. CAF members continued to work with civilian authorities supporting the Province of Quebec in monitoring water levels near critical infrastructure, and continued flood relief operations.
  • May 15, 2017: CAF operations related to sandbagging and the construction and reinforcement of dikes decreased and ceased in some areas. Patrolling and monitoring water levels near critical infrastructure in the affected areas continued. CAF members in Gatineau began assisting with the initial recovery and clean up phase, including picking up sandbags.
  • Since May 16, 2017: The CAF has completed sandbagging operations. The CAF continues to focus on supporting the regions in cleaning up critical infrastructure.

 

Since deploying, the CAF has helped the civil and municipal security teams already on the ground by conducting tasks such as:
 

  • distributing and filling sandbags to help solidify existing structures and protect critical infrastructure
  • using military vehicles to help the civil authorities to maintain traffic on critical arteries and help evacuate citizens to safe areas
  • patrolling to monitor critical infrastructure and safety of citizens
  • reinforcing dikes and walls to protect critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants and bridges
  • helping with the cleanup of sandbags from critical public infrastructure and roads, when requested by municipalities 

 

The CAF is also ready to support civilian partners such as the Canadian Red Cross in the supply of shelters.

The task force

Operation LENTUS can draw personnel and assets such as vehicles, equipment, crews, and aircraft from across Canada from any or all of the following:

  • the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN);
  • the Canadian Army (CA); and
  • the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Deployed personnel can specialize in areas such as engineering, health services, force protection, transportation, aviation, or logistics.

The operation is coordinated by a central command unit – the Canadian Joint Operations Command. This is done in coordination with the respective regional joint task force.

Mission context

The threat

Natural disasters can occur without warning. Hurricanes, floods and forest fires are common to certain regions and seasons in Canada. Depending on the severity, provincial and territorial authorities may require immediate support from the CAF to help mitigate the impact of the disasters.

Usually, flooding occurs when the volume of water in a river or stream exceeds the capacity of the channel. It also takes place along lake and coastal shorelines, when higher than normal water levels inundate low-lying areas. Numerous factors affect streamflow, and therefore the potential for flooding. The amount and type of precipitation, the nature and condition of the drainage basin, and climate are all important factors that can cause flooding.

Ecological and human factors are the two largest contributors to wildfire. The forest type, tree age, topography and weather, as well as forestry operations and recreational access to forested backcountry increase the risk of wildfire.

Past missions

2017

2017

 Operation LENTUS 17-02: Kashechewan, Ontario

On April 16, 2017, the Province of Ontario asked the Government of Canada to assist in the emergency response at the Kashechewan First Nation in anticipation of potential flooding along the Albany River.

CAF members from 3 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group assisted in the evacuation of community residents, conducted land reconnaissance, and monitored river levels in the area.

On May 1, 2017, the Province of Ontario informed the Government of Canada that assistance in the form of CAF personnel was no longer required.

Operation LENTUS 17-01: New Brunswick

On January 27, 2017, following a destructive ice storm, the Province of New Brunswick requested CAF assistance to conduct a reconnaissance to determine how the CAF could support relief efforts. The first troops arrived within 24 hours.

In a second request for assistance on January 29, the Province of New Brunswick requested Government of Canada assistance in the form of CAF personnel and assets to conduct a variety of tasks, including delivering emergency supplies, helping to re-establish road networks, and going door to door to check on residents in the Northeast of the province.

The main body of troops consisted of approximately 200 CAF members who were sent to communities in the Northeast of the province.

Over the course 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.On February 5, 2017, the CAF started to draw down the military presence in areas where the Province announced that remaining relief efforts were within provincial and municipal capabilities.

On February 6, 2017, the remaining CAF members finished assisting New Brunswick’s relief efforts and returned to their home units.

2016

2016

Operation LENTUS 16-01: Fort McMurray, Alberta

On May 4, 2016, following intense wildfires, the Province of Alberta requested CAF assistance with their emergency response to the wildfire situation in Fort McMurray.

On May 12, 2016, the Province of Alberta assessed that the contribution of Canadian Armed Forces air assets to support provincial resources in responding to the wildfires in Fort McMurray was no longer required. On May 13, 2016, all participating CAF assets returned to normal duties.

In support of the Province of Alberta, the CAF deployed:

  • 65 CAF personnel
  • four CH-146 Griffon helicopters
  • one CH-147 Chinook helicopter
  • one CC-130J Hercules aircraft

During Op LENTUS 16-01 Joint Task Force West shipped 124,700 lbs. of freight, transported a total of 367 evacuees to safe areas, and transported 173 firefighters in and out of the affected area.

Working from Conklin, Alberta, the Air Task Force conducted one search and rescue mission, eight reconnaissance flights over fire-affected areas and critical infrastructure, and eight night surveillance flights that employed technology to monitor the fire at night.

2015

2015

Operation LENTUS 15-02: Northern Saskatchewan

Following intense wildfires, the Province of Saskatchewan requested support from the Federal Government on July 4, 2015. As a result, approximately 850 CAF members deployed to northern Saskatchewan to support local and provincial firefighting efforts by:

  • conducting fire line operations including patrols, surveillance, digging and control
  • conducting fire line operations near cities and critical infrastructure
  • putting out hotspots in and around vulnerable communities
  • providing logistic support such as moving fire hoses

The Royal Canadian Air Force deployed two CH-146 Griffon helicopters to Prince Albert to transport CAF personnel as required, and the CAF had approximately 230 vehicles in the Prince Albert area.

In total, CAF members completed 12 days of fire line operations, from July 8 to 20.

Operation LENTUS 15-01: Kashechewan, Ontario

Following a Request for Assistance on April 27, 2015, the CAF supported the Province of Ontario in providing assistance to residents of Kashechewan affected by spring flooding.

RCAF rotary wing assets were placed on standby and prepositioned close to the affected region in order to complement provincial air evacuation if the need arose. Several Canadian Rangers from the affected communities assisted in voluntary evacuation activities.

2014

2014

Operation LENTUS 14-05: Manitoba

Following intense flooding, the Province of Manitoba declared a state of emergency and requested support from the Federal Government on 4 July 2014. As a result, 500 CAF members deployed to support provincial authorities with:

  • protecting critical infrastructure, including assisting with sandbagging productiondelivering sandbags to remote areasassisting with the construction of barriers to protect critical infrastructure;
  • Four CH-146 Griffon helicopters from 408 Squadron in Edmonton deployed to conduct flights over the affected area.

Operation LENTUS 14-03: Northern Ontario

In May 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the Province of Ontario in the assistance to communities in the James Bay region affected by spring flooding.

Between 17 and 20 May, the Canadian Armed Forces provided evacuation support to the residents of Attawapiskat First Nations. The CC-130 conducted two flights to evacuate 165 residents.

CC-130 Hercules aircraft provided air evacuation and Canadian Rangers from the community assisted in voluntary evacuation activities.

Operation LENTUS 14-02: Northern Ontario

In May 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the Province of Ontario in the assistance to communities in the James Bay region affected by spring flooding.

Between 10 and 12 May, 730 people were evacuated via airlift from Kashechewan.

CC-130 Hercules aircraft provided air evacuation and Canadian Rangers from the community assisted in voluntary evacuation activities.

Operation LENTUS 14-01: Northern Ontario

In May 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the Province of Ontario in the assistance to communities in the James Bay region affected by spring flooding caused by ice jams, due to ice breaking apart during the spring season thaw. Three operations took place to support these communities.

Between 7 and 8 May, the Canadian Armed Forces provided evacuation support to the residents of Kashechewan and Fort Albany, Ontario (approximately 400 km north of Timmins, Ontario). In total, 90 people were evacuated via airlift.

CC-130 Hercules aircraft provided air evacuation and Canadian Rangers from the community assisted in voluntary evacuation activities.

 

2013

2013

Operation LENTUS 13-01: Southern Alberta

Operation LENTUS 13-01 was the CAF answer to a request for assistance by the Province of Alberta in June 2013 to provide support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations due to major flooding in Southern Alberta.

2011

2011

Operation FORGE: Northwest Ontario

In July 2011, the CAF provided assistance to local authorities by evacuating residents in northwest Ontario threatened by forest fires. Six CC-130 Hercules military transport aircraft flew a total of 42 missions, evacuating 3,614 people from Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Fort Hope, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, Kasabonika and Sandy Lake.

Operation LUSTRE: Southern Manitoba

Operation LUSTRE involved CAF assistance to local authorities during the May 2011 floods of the Assiniboine River in Southern Manitoba.

Operation LOTUS: Montérégie region of Québec

Operation LOTUS was the CAF joint response to a request by the Province of Québec for assistance in controlling floods in the Montérégie region of Québec in May 2011.

2010

2010

Operation LAMA: Southern and eastern Newfoundland

In September 2010, Hurricane Igor hit southern and eastern Newfoundland and the CAF were requested to assist. At its peak, Operation LAMA involved more than 1,000 regular and reserve personnel who assisted some 40 communities isolated by storm damage left in the wake of Hurricane Igor.

External Links

Government of Canada

Flooding in Canada
Natural hazards in Canada
Emergency response

 

 

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