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Army response to hurricane Dorian gets off to slow start in Dartmouth

WATCH: Extensive power outages in Atlantic Canada in the wake of Dorian

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.

READ MORE: Crews in Atlantic Canada work to restore power to hundreds of thousands as Dorian cleanup continues

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.

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“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.”

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Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown move a slab of sidewalk as they assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown move a slab of sidewalk as they assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Hurricane Dorian brought wind, rain and heavy seas that knocked out power across the region.
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Hurricane Dorian brought wind, rain and heavy seas that knocked out power across the region. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
Members of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Camp Gagetown assist in the cleanup in Halifax on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

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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WATCH: Maritimes clean up after storm’s powerful punch

Hurricane Dorian: Maritimes clean up after storm’s powerful punch
Hurricane Dorian: Maritimes clean up after storm’s powerful punch

“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