Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he plans to visit Atlantic Canada later this week to survey the damage wrought by Fiona, the storm that tore apart homes and communities across the region this weekend.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Trudeau said the federal government will be matching donations made to the Canadian Red Cross storm support efforts, and encouraged Canadians to help.
“It’s an opportunity to step up and give what we can,” he said.
Roads are washed away, communities battered, power remains out, and at least one person is dead in the wake of the devastating storm, which hit regions around Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern New Brunswick and parts of Quebec on Saturday and Sunday.
Roughly 100 Canadian Forces members are being deployed to Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland communities in response to provincial requests for federal help, while Canadian Rangers in Quebec’s Magdalen Islands continue to monitor the situation there.
“If they need more, we’ll send more, there’s no question about it,” Trudeau said.
He said a visit will prioritize not getting in the way of first responders on the ground, where significant work remains to be done on removing downed trees and debris, helping people get personal items from the homes they had to evacuate, and restoring power to tens of thousands of people.
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While people in Atlantic Canada are used to fierce storms, Trudeau said in French that Fiona “was on a different scale” and that the storm “exceeded even the dire predictions people had.”
It is the type of storm that Canadians will likely see more of as a result of climate change, he added, but did not specify when asked for more details on the types of financial support that will be available for the provinces and people hit by the storm.
“We’re very much focused right now on just getting through these initial days of chaos, of disruption, of people worried about where they’re going to sleep, worried about how they’re going to get through the next couple of days, get the power back on. That is our entire focus right now,” Trudeau said.
“But as I’ve said to the premiers, as I’ve said to the mayors I’ve spoken with, the federal government will be there as a partner. We know that the disaster response program by the federal government is there to support with these costs.”
Trudeau continued: “As we look to rebuilding, as we look to build building stronger infrastructure, as we look to helping families that may have had no or only partial insurance, governments of all stripes are going to be stepping up and the federal government will be there alongside.”
The HMCS Margaret Brooke, a Canadian navy offshore patrol vessel, will also be conducting wellness checks on communities along Newfoundland’s southern coast in the coming days as first responders and military members work to assess the full scope of the damage in isolated communities.