Canada’s government to help Newfoundland dig out after huge blizzard

Storm dumps 75cm of snow on St John’s with wind gusts as high as 130km/h


Canada’s federal government will help Newfoundland on the Atlantic coast dig out in the wake of a massive winter blizzard that buried cars and left thousands without power, a cabinet minister said.

The storm dumped as much as 76.2cm (30 inches) of snow on St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, and packed wind gusts as high as 130km/h. The snowfall was an all-time record for the day for St John’s International Airport.

St John’s mayor Danny Breen said earlier that a state of emergency declared on Friday remained in effect. Businesses were closed, as was the airport.

Natural resources minister Seamus O’Regan said military reservists might be called in, but details of the assistance had yet to be worked out. The immediate priority will be snow removal and clearing roads to the snowbound hospital, he said.

“We have a real issue right now with access to the hospital,” Mr O’Regan told reporters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government is meeting for two days in a what it has called a retreat.

Commenting on the scale of the blizzard, Mr O’Regan said: “It’s snow and a hurricane, and snow and a hurricane shuts down a city.”

The public safety and defence ministers, who were en route to Winnipeg, would be able to provide more details later, Mr O’Regan said. Earlier, the provincial premier asked the government for support, including “mobilising the Canadian Armed Forces”.

Thousands remained without power, and social media showed people had begun to literally dig out of their homes after snowdrifts blocked their doorways.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) confirmed a report of an avalanche slamming into a home in St John’s Battery neighbourhood, which sits at the entrance to the city’s harbour on the slopes of a steep hill.

A picture of the home on Twitter showed the living room filled with snow. CBC also said a 26-year-old man has been reported missing after having set out to walk to a friend’s house on Friday during the blizzard.

“Help is on the way,” Mr Trudeau tweeted. – Reuters