Canadian troops coming to N.B.'s aid: Premier Gallant

Speaking at a news conference in Shippagan, N.B., Premier Brian Gallant said members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to the areas of the province affected most severely by Tuesday’s ice storm.
One scene from New Brunswick's ice-coated Acadian Peninsula. (Jerome Luc Paulin/Twitter)

Six days following the ice storm in New Brunswick, Premier Brian Gallant announced on Sunday that between 100 and 150 troops will arrive in the province within the next 24 hours to help with recovery efforts.

Speaking at a news conference in Shippagan, N.B., Gallant said members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to the areas of the province affected most severely by Tuesday's ice storm, which likely includes the Acadian Peninsula where almost 20,000 people are still without power.

The troops, he said, will join local authorities in clearing debris, distributing essentials such as water, and going door to door to check on people without power.

At this point, Gallant couldn't say how much this will cost, nor whether the province or Ottawa will pay for their deployment.

Right now, he said, the focus is on the safety of New Brunswickers. The provincial government will discuss with its federal counterpart the cost of the troops' deployment after the province emerges from this crisis.

Carbon monoxide poisoning a problem

The premier said that hospitals have seen 31 people for injuries believed to be caused by carbon monoxide. 

This follows two earlier deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.

"This is a reminder to us of the importance of staying safe," Gallant said. "Our thoughts are still with the loved ones of the two individuals that we lost," as well as with those who have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. 

He advised against running a generator or using an open flame inside your home or garage.

"We cannot stress this point enough: please, be very vigilant," he said. "We want to make sure that everybody stays safe and that we don't have any more similar incidents."

Many still in the dark

As of 7 p.m. AT, the outages were affecting more than 24,000 residences, most of which — some 17,000 households — are in northeastern New Brunswick.

They have now been without power for six days — and many will be in the dark for more than a day yet.

According to NB Power, 60 per cent of its customers on the Acadian Peninsula should see the end of the outage by late Monday.

Gallant discussed the province-wide delays during his remarks, attributing these hold-ups to the current state of power infrastructure. In addition to damaged poles and transformers, power lines are also now thickly coated with ice.

Door-knockers lending a hand

The N.B. Emergency Measures Organization, one of the parties involved in the recovery efforts, has relocated its headquarters to Inkerman, N.B., on the Acadian Peninsula, "to ensure that we have a strong presence to help those that are still without power," Gallant said.

Plus, the premier said, there are volunteers visiting people's homes, as not all New Brunswickers have access to a mobile device, a television or a radio for updates.

These volunteers have knocked on 15,000 doors, or 90 per cent of the homes — including nursing homes, special care homes and individual homes — in the affected areas, Gallant said.

The volunteers have given people safety information, inquired about any additional needs they may have and provided them with necessities like water, he said.

"We've done the best we could to prioritize anyone that we would know would maybe be in a more vulnerable situation for a medical condition or based on any other factor," he said.

Things to keep in mind

Gallant offered a handful of safety tips throughout his Sunday update. These are: 

  • Don't touch downed power lines or trees. 
  • Don't leave candles or lanterns unattended.
  • Turn off lights and unplug appliances; leaving them on can overcharge the system when the power does return.
  • Listen to the authorities.
  • Check on your neighbours. 

He also encouraged New Brunswickers without power to check out their local shelters and warming centres.

With files from Gail Harding