'Snowmageddon': cleanup begins after record Newfoundland storm

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

The storm on Friday and Saturday 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 (81mph). The snowfall was an all-time record for the day for St John’s international airport.

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

The natural resources minister, Seamus O’Regan, said on Saturday that 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,” O’Regan told reporters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the 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, 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, O’Regan said. Earlier, the provincial premier asked the government for support, including “mobilising the Canadian armed forces”.

Thousands remained without power. On social media people described the storm as “snowmageddon”. Images 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 hitting 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.

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,” Trudeau tweeted.

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(Source: theguardian.com; https://is.gd/3lJkEP)
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