The plan for Canadian Armed Forces soldiers to assist in the cleanup of debris in the wake of hurricane Dorian got off to a slow start on Monday.
Approximately 300 soldiers — mostly from CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick — have been assigned to Operation LENTUS.
On Monday morning, soldiers were deployed to Dartmouth, Yarmouth, Sydney, Liverpool, Lunenburg and Amherst.
Soldiers arrived in Dartmouth in three light armoured vehicles fully prepared to clear a heavy maple tree that brought down power lines as it fell, partially blocking a pathway on Lyngby Avenue.
Lt. Gabriel Picard was tasked with removing the large tree blocking the street.
“We are here to support the local authorities and to help things return to normal after the passage of hurricane Dorian,” said Picard, troop commander with 4 Engineer Support Regiment, based at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.
“Our main priority is to clear the roads and to make sure that people without power are safe.”
Unfortunately, the soldiers left two hours later without having touched the tree. Without an electrician to ensure the site was safe, the soldiers put away their chainsaw and left to take a break.
The unit was successful in moving a slab of sidewalk in the area and the soldiers were able to quickly pack up and move on to another area.
Dartmouth resident Sherri MacDonald said she and her neighbours were grateful for the army’s assistance.
“When I drove up here a few minutes ago, it was a little shocking,” she said as onlookers gathered along the sun-drenched sidewalk.
“But I’m also really thankful that we have all of these folks out cleaning up our city and helping us get things back to normal.”
MacDonald said the storm temporarily cut power to her home on Richards Drive, but her property was not damaged.
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“I do know that it wreaked havoc all over the city,” she said. “People can’t get to work. The power is out. Lines are down. Trees are blocking the way. I know that lots of folks had damage to their cars and their houses… I think it was a pretty significant impact.”
Soldiers deployed on Operation LENTUS are being sent where they are most needed and an additional 400 troops are being held in reserve if their assistance becomes necessary.
With files from the Canadian Press