Military helping reopen eastern Newfoundland
Last Updated: Monday, September 27, 2010 | 6:50 PM NT
The Canadian military is beginning to reconnect roads in eastern Newfoundland that were destroyed by Hurricane Igor last week.
Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the Canadian Forces' chief of defence staff, was in the small community of Trouty on eastern Newfoundland's Bonavista Peninsula that was badly damaged by the hurricane.
In his experience, Natynczyk said, it's always isolated communities like Trouty that take the longest to recover from natural disasters in Canada.
"One of the challenges in these domestic operations is these small communities that are cut off — that don't have power or phone. The same thing occurred during the ice storm [in Quebec and Ontario]. In the big towns things are OK.… It's the small communities that are always hardest hit," said Natynczyk.
With roads and the main bridge in Trouty destroyed, it's nearly impossible to move heavy equipment into the community. But Brig.-Gen. Tony Stack said the military is getting ready to reconnect Trouty with the rest of the province.
"We've got a particular type of bridge called a medium girder bridge, which is assault bridging. It's not a pretty bridge but it will get across a gap and it will serve a function and get some vehicles across there," he said.
Meanwhile, more reservists are being called in from St. John's to support the military effort, dubbed Operation Lama. Lama is a military code for a relief effort triggered by a hurricane.
By late Monday, 400 troops were expected on the ground in Clarenville. More than 150 of them are reservists from Newfoundland and Labrador.
"A good number of those are reservists who have served with us overseas in Afghanistan," said Lt.-Col. Jim Goodman, who's in charge of the land component of the operation.
"My unit in particular, an engineering unit, does a lot of the route opening and is right in the fight against improvised explosive devices and we've got some local reservists that are coming out from the local 56 Engineer Squadron that have actually served with us in that dangerous environment," said Goodman.
"So it's nice to see them again and have them helping us here at home."
The Canadian Forces was continuing to assess damage in communities in eastern Newfoundland.
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