October 4, 2010 3:59 pm

Military ends Hurricane Igor relief effort

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Canada’s military is winding down relief efforts in Newfoundland following Hurricane Igor.

Brig.-Gen. Tony Stack said troops have started pulling out now that access to some 88 isolated communities has been restored. He said fewer than 400 troops remain and that the operation is expected to end Wednesday.

"We’re here for the emergency period, but they’re into the recovery phase now and that’s why we’re winding down operations," Stack said. "They still have a lot of work to do to restore things to the way they were before."

A force that included three Navy frigates, a Sea King helicopter and about 1,000 reservists, regular forces engineers and seamen was dispatched to the area after a violent storm swept through on Sept. 21.

Igor washed out roads, flooded homes and cut off access to food and supplies. Damages are pegged at around $100 million. There was one loss of life.

Stack said troops drove 2,000 kilometres doing route recognizance and documenting damage for the Newfoundland government. They helped to deliver humanitarian aid, rebuild roads and bridges, conducted water testing and ferried power crews to remote locations.

Most importantly, he said, they listened to the harrowing stories of residents who, in many cases, lost their homes and saw all their possessions irreparably damaged.

"When you’re in an isolated community and you’re on the coast of Newfoundland and you’ve just been through one heck of an experience, to be able to look offshore and see that there’s tangible evidence that the people of Canada are with you, embodied in the presence of the Canadian Navy, it’s great comfort," Stack said.

"It was a tragedy for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the damage is still being felt, but it felt very good from our perspective to be working in our own country and helping our own people."

As the cleanup from Hurricane Igor continues, the federal government has announced additional funding for Nova Scotia, which is still grappling with the devastating effects of Hurricane Juan, which hit in 2003.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced an additional $4 million for Nova Scotia under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, bringing the total federal contribution to $8 million.

Juan struck Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on Sept. 29, 2003, taking eight lives and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to public infrastructure and private property.

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