Manitoba man moves to Newfoundland at 'one of the worst' times — just weeks before blizzard buried St. John's

"New year, new city" — and a lot more snow, Jacob Herd said about his recent big move from Winnipeg to St. John's, N.L., just weeks before a record-breaking storm slammed the eastern city.

Jacob Herd moved there 17 days before unprecedented snowstorm slammed St. John's, N.L.

Jacob Herd begins to shovel out after a snowstorm buried St. John's with more than 70 centimetres of snow. (Submitted by Maria Cherwick)

When his roommate warned him about a looming blizzard headed for Newfoundland, a recently moved Manitoban had no idea he would end up spending hours shovelling his way out of the house the next day.

"I'm just a Manitoban who moved to Newfoundland at probably one of the worst times that you could do such a thing," Jacob Herd said.

A musician from Winnipeg, Herd said he moved to St. John's, N.L., at the turn of the new year to be with his girlfriend — just two-and-a-half weeks before an unprecedented storm slammed the city, forcing officials to declare a state of emergency that has continued into Sunday.

"It was quite a shock," Herd said. He could barely make out his neighbour's house across the street through all the blowing snow.

Eastern Newfoundlanders are still struggling to remove record-breaking snowdrifts more than 48 hours later.

A snowy view up Holloway Street from the corner of Prospect Street after a weekend storm in St. John's, N.L. (Submitted by Jacob Herd)

"I've seen some pretty big snowfalls, but this is the most I've ever seen at one time," Herd said.

Snowdrifts line the untouched streets, with some standing as high as his head, at more than six feet.

Herd had already spent at least three hours clearing the snowy pathways. His street had yet to be plowed by Saturday evening, he said.

The intense precipitation brought his new city and many surrounding communities to a near standstill overnight, dumping more than 70 centimetres of snow.

But it did not stop first responders from fighting through waist-deep snow to attend emergencies.

Premier Dwight Ball has formally requested assistance from Ottawa, including mobilization of the Canadian Forces.

The federal government approved Newfoundland and Labrador's request for assistance in dealing with the aftermath, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said Saturday, speaking from a federal cabinet retreat in Winnipeg.

In an email, a municipal spokesperson said the City of Winnipeg's emergency preparedness officials have reached out to their eastern counterparts, and Mayor Brian Bowman has asked St. John's Mayor Danny Breen how the city can help.

The Manitoba government said its jurisdictional equivalent has not requested urgent support from the central province. Officials are monitoring the eastern situation in case a request is made, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Herd says he had to buy a shovel, something he didn't bring in his move from Manitoba. (Submitted by Jacob Herd)

Herd said he could get used to the struggle with snow on the East Coast, compared to painfully cold winters on the Prairies.

"To be honest, and not to sell out my Manitobans, but I think I'm still actually preferring this right now," he said. "It's not like the air is going to freeze your hands solid in five minutes."

His advice for Manitobans mulling a move out east?

"Just make sure you own a shovel and a good pair of boots," he said. "I was here with neither, so I had to buy both pretty quick."

With files from Riley Laychuk and The Canadian Press