Food, gas reach stranded towns

A week after hurricane Igor left much of eastern Newfoundland a sodden mess, the first fresh supply of food and gasoline reached the 4,100 residents of Bonavista by road Tuesday.

BONAVISTA, N.L. — A week after hurricane Igor left much of eastern Newfoundland a sodden mess, the first fresh supply of food and gasoline reached the 4,100 residents of Bonavista by road Tuesday.

Mayor Betty Fitzgerald said major repairs to one of the two washed out routes into the seaside town made it possible for a fleet of light trucks to drive into the community.

“It was a relief to see that happen,” she said in an interview. “We had to ration (gasoline) and just handed it out to emergency vehicles only.”

The lack of fresh food was making life difficult for some families. The mother of a two-year-old had earlier complained to Fitzgerald that she couldn’t get a special type of milk the child needs to stay healthy.

As well, local businesses were running out of supplies, including the town’s coffee shops and restaurants.

“I hope people realize that these places on the Bonavista Peninsula and the Burin Peninsula, where this storm struck, are in dire need of this type of thing,” the mayor said, adding that the town has decided not to lift its state of emergency.

The town had its electricity restored three days after the storm, but the schools are still closed and road repairs are expected to take much longer to complete.

Both Route 230 and Route 235 are still in rough shape, unable to support larger transport trucks.

Bonavista, like dozens of other communities in the province, was left badly damaged by flooding after Igor dumped more than 200 millimetres of rain in some areas.

Fitzgerald said more than 80 per cent of the town’s houses were damaged and about a dozen families have been told they can’t return to their waterlogged homes.

She praised the Red Cross and the Canadian military for coming to the region’s aid, saying soldiers were making steady progress at repairing the roads and bridges that link smaller, more remote communities.

Fitzgerald said Monday night was the first night she was able to get a good night’s rest.

“This whole area, where this storm struck, is nothing but a disaster area,” she said. “I’ve heard so many sad stories and I’ve cried so many tears. It’s unbelievable.”

In Trouty, about 40 kilometres southwest of Bonavista, soldiers were working to install a temporary bridge over Trouty Brook.

A wooden footbridge made from telephone poles is all that connects the tiny village since Igor transformed the brook into a raging torrent that pulled apart the original bridge.

On the Burin Peninsula, which extends from the province’s south coast, the road to Marystown was repaired enough to allow a line of trucks to deliver food and gas.

Maj. James Simiana of Joint Task Force Newfoundland said just under 1,000 personnel, two frigates and three Sea King helicopters were involved in the military’s relief effort.

He said the temporary bridge in Trouty would probably be completed Wednesday, restoring a land link to the ravaged community.

The Sea Kings have been flying back and forth from Gander to bring food, water, fuel for generators and other supplies into dozens of communities cut off from the rest of the province.

“At the height, there were something like 80 communities that were isolated and impacted by the ravages of Igor and I think now that’s down to less than 20,” Simiana said Tuesday night.

He said a third frigate had left the area but added it’s too early to say when the military effort would end.

“It’s an hard call, there’s no hard answer to that just yet. There are still expected to be loads, for example, that will need to be lifted by our Sea Kings into communities.”

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