New Brunswick

'I can't believe it': Armed Forces assist with storm recovery on Acadian Peninsula

As NB Power crews continued to scramble Tuesday to restore power to the Acadian Peninsula following last week's ice storm, area residents were grateful to members of the Armed Forces who put in their first full day on the ground, clearing debris and handing out supplies.

Nearly 10,000 homes and businesses still without power one week after ice storm hit

About three dozen military engineers will spend the next few weeks on the Acadian Peninsula, clearing roads and yards of trees damaged by last week's major ice storm. (CBC)

Sonia Mallet never thought she'd ever see an armoured truck roll in her Shippagan driveway, let alone be happy about it.

But that's what happened on Tuesday, when about 200 members of the Canadian Armed Forces from the 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown put in their first full day on the ground assisting with ice storm recovery efforts on the Acadian Peninsula.

"The army was in my yard and they were asking me if I needed any help and if I wanted my tree cut because it was falling on the house, so gratefully, I said 'Yes,'" said Mallet, who went several days without power before it was finally restored on Monday at noon.

Nearly 10,000 NB Power customers remained without power as of early Tuesday evening; nearly 8,500 of them on the Acadian Peninsula.

At the peak of the outages last week, 133,000 homes and businesses across the province simultaneously had no electricity. In total, more than 200,000 have been affected by the storm and its aftermath.

Sonia Mallet was happy to see an armoured vehicle outside her Shippagan home on Tuesday. (CBC)
"It was really fantastic, the community, all the help we had," said Mallet, as troops busily used chainsaws to cut trees that broke under the weight of heavy ice and clear the debris. "It was unbelievable. Even the army in my yard, I can't believe it."

Sgt. Joseph Beckwith, a Saint John native and military engineer, said they're happy to help.

"It's definitely a bad situation," said Beckwith.

Crews scoped out the region on Monday night to identify the areas needing the most attention, he said.

Sgt. Joseph Beckwith said he and his colleagues are 'glad to be out in the community and helping out.' (CBC)
"We're trying to clear all the trees that are dangerous to the local population and clear the routes and have them open for emergency situations."

They will also work alongside NB Power crews to repair downed and damaged power lines.

In the village of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, soldiers were handing out firewood at the fire station to a steady flow of local residents in need, even during the wee hours of the night.

They had to limit each person to 50 logs. One man made several trips to pick up wood for all of his neighbours, who couldn't leave their homes.

Premier Brian Gallant has said some people may be without power through until Thursday.

With files from Gabrielle Fahmy