A month of snow leaves Newfoundland, Canada, in a state of emergency


A soldier from the 4th Artillery Regiment based at CFB Gagetown clears snow at a residence in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. The state of emergency ordered by the City of St. John’s continues, leaving most businesses closed and vehicles off the roads in the aftermath of the major winter storm that hit the Newfoundland and Labrador capital. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

Newfoundland residents have been blanketed with snow for nearly a month, and with a state of emergency extended through Saturday morning, it’s not over yet.

“We don’t feel that the streets are at the safety level that we need to be in order to take off the state of emergency right now,” St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen said.

It started to snow in St. John’s — the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada — on Christmas Eve, and it hasn’t stopped since, Deputy City Manager of Public Works Lynnann Winsor said. The constant pile up has made clearing the snow a challenge.

The last state of emergency was 35 years ago, Breen said, adding that he intended to modernize the plan given how the city and its commercial operations have since changed.

“This is very challenging for businesses, this is very challenging for people working,” the mayor said.

Restrictions on travel and businesses opening have been relaxed for some despite the extension.

Medical, health, and dental practitioners, as well as veterinarians will be allowed to open as of 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, Breen said. Those who live in St. Johns but work in other municipalities are now allowed to travel to work.

The mayor urged people to be careful of the heavy equipment moving around on the roads and to keep children especially safe.

Emergencies and broken records

The state of emergency follows last week’s record-breaking weather for the region.

St. John’s International Airport recorded 76.2 cm (30 inches) of snow Friday, according to Environment Canada, breaking the previous daily snowfall record set on April 5, 1999, of 68.4 cm (26.93 inches).

Footage showed people digging themselves out of snow that covered both streets and cars.

On Saturday, CNN news partners CBC reported that the federal government had approved the province’s request for assistance.

“Whatever assistance we have available and we can mobilize on the ground will happen,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, who’s also Member of Parliament for St. John’s.

The Canadian Armed Forces announced it was planning a response to the “unprecedented winter storm.”

“Our expected tasks will be to assist with snow removal, provide residents with transportation to warming or emergency centres, and ensure the elderly and those with health concerns are cared for,” the CAF said in a statement last week on Facebook.

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