Lineups outside grocery stores in St. John’s as state of emergency hits Day 5

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Residents of St. John’s, N.L., were lining up for food today as supermarkets opened for the first time since last week’s massive blizzard to allow people to restock supplies.

The lineup at one Sobey’s store stretched around the parking lot and out into the street by the time doors opened at 10 a.m.

The city had advised people to buy enough food to last 48 hours, but some turned away at the sight of the long line.

Within 20 minutes of opening, there was little room to move inside the store as people filled carts with essential foods and household items, leaving some shelves nearly bare.

The store openings occurred on the fifth day of a state of emergency in the capital as cleanup continued from a storm Friday that brought 76 centimetres of snow to the area.

Hundreds of Armed Forces personnel have been brought in to help in the effort, and more are expected today.

One resident, Doris Squires, said she and her husband walked down early with a plan to beat the crowd, but they arrived to find others had the same idea.

“I’m surprised, actually,” Squires said. “But we are running out of things, and they’re telling us to get stuff now for 48 hours.”

She said she understands the snow-clearing process is long, and she was looking forward to a restocked kitchen Tuesday night.

“I’m going to put on a pot of fresh meat soup, if I can get some fresh meat,” she said.

Inside the store, Margaret Connors was co-ordinating with neighbours to buy milk and other essentials for neighbours who couldn’t get out.

“We’re just combining forces to help out people on our street,” Connors said.

She had picked up a carton of milk for a mother who needed to stock up for her kids.

“I think everybody was surprised at all of this, but I think people are pulling together,” she said.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says about 450 troops — including some 175 reservists — will be in Newfoundland today to help the province dig out from the storm.

Travel remains difficult across eastern Newfoundland, and St. John’s International Airport will not reopen for commercial flights before Wednesday.

The City of St. John’s eased its state of emergency to allow some stores to reopen to sell “basic foods.” Most other businesses have to remain closed, with exceptions for gas stations and some pharmacies.

Search efforts will also continue for 26-year-old Joshua Wall, who was last seen leaving his home in Roaches Line during Friday’s blizzard to walk through a wooded area to a friend’s home in nearby Marysvale.

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