Trudeau, Goodale and Sajjan to visit Halifax to survey Dorian recovery efforts

HALIFAX — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two federal cabinet ministers will visit the Halifax area today to survey the damage caused by Dorian, the hurricane-strength post-tropical storm that slammed into the Maritimes on the weekend.

Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan are scheduled to meet with local officials and Armed Force representatives at a Halifax armoury for a briefing on relief efforts.

Goodale and Sajjan will later visit Herring Cove, N.S., a coastal community south of Halifax near where Dorian made landfall on Saturday night.

As the storm approached the coastline, it lashed the area with driving rain and gusts reaching almost 150 kilometres per hour — approaching the power of a Category 2 hurricane.

There have been no reported injuries, but roofs were torn off and trees were snapped like twigs, pulling down power lines across a wide swath of the Maritimes.

At one point, more than 500,000 electricity consumers in the region were without power, representing 80 per cent of the homes and businesses in Nova Scotia and 75 per cent in Prince Edward Island.

In New Brunswick, about 80,000 homes and businesses — 20 per cent of NB Power’s customers — were left in the dark at the height of the storm.

As the recovery effort entered Day 3, those numbers have dropped considerably. However, more than 100,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still without electricity Tuesday morning, and the company said it would be Thursday before everyone is reconnected.

The company says it has found about 3,700 trees on power lines that stretch across 32,000 kilometres, and repairs are being made to 300 broken or leaning utility poles.

As well, about 4,500 outages across Nova Scotia represent individual customers, which means one repair will bring electricity back to only one customer.

“We know this is frustrating and customers want their power back as soon as possible. That’s what we want, too,” Nova Scotia Power CEO Karen Hutt said in a statement.

“Complex outages must be pushed back in a number of cases.”

Meanwhile, about 300 soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick showed up in the Halifax region on Monday to help with the cleanup.

Light armoured vehicles were spotted patrolling the streets as soldiers with chainsaws were ready to clear the streets of fallen trees.

However, they were prevented from removing some trees because limbs were still tangled in power lines, which meant an electrician was needed to ensure safety.

Power crews from Quebec, Ontario, Florida and Maine have been called in to help.

Many schools across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were closed Monday, and emergency officials have been urging people to stay home for their own safety and to give cleanup crews the room they need to work.

Public schools in Nova Scotia remained closed Tuesday.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

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