Prime Minister visits New Brunswick communities today hit by ice storm

Trudeau visits storm-stricken N.B. region

LAMEQUE, N.B. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the community spirit that New Brunswickers showed in dealing with last week’s ice storm as he visited some of the most hard hit communities Friday night.

Trudeau went to a warming station at the Royal Canadian Legion in Neguac to thank volunteers and meet with members of the public who are still there.

Trudeau praised the crowd at the warming centre for sticking together during the crisis.

“Everyone in Canada know New Brunswickers, your strength, your neighbourliness … You really, really notice it during the tough times,” he said.

Alvina Savoie, retired from the Navy, was one of the volunteers. She left Halifax to come home to Neguac last Saturday and has been helping out since.

“I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),” she said. “So this helps.”

Savoie came to New Brunswick to help her elderly parents but was accustomed to cooking for large groups of people so she knew she could help at the warming centre.

She also went door-to-door checking on people, and bringing them food. Some were too proud to ask for help.

“Some that really needed the help wouldn’t say that they needed it,” Savoie said.

Later in the evening Trudeau visited a warming centre in Lameque, where he also praised the strong sense of community in the region.

“The heart of being Canadian is being there for each other, being good neighbours for each other. And that, once again, like every time, we’re seeing right here on the Peninsula Acadien,” Trudeau said before wading into the crowd to take countless selfies.

One of those on hand to greet Trudeau was Ruthann Bradshaw who was thankful for the efforts that local authorities made to set up warming centres so she and her family had a place to escape the cold. 

“If it wasn’t for them, I’d almost be in the cold,” she said.

The storm left tens of thousands of people without power for days. About 3,300 customers were still out Friday morning.

The Canadian military sent soldiers on Monday to help local authorities clear away debris and check on the welfare of local residents.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant says the province will review its response to the ice storm, which left 133,000 customers without power at the peak of outages.

Gallant said NB Power was hoping to restore 90 per cent of customers on the Acadian Peninsula by Friday night.

Gallant said the provincial government’s most senior civil servant, executive council clerk Judy Wagner, will undertake a review to apply lessons learned to future emergencies.

“We are very proud of the work that everyone did during this very difficult time. We need, however, to see what worked well and what could be done better next storm,” said Gallant.

“With the effects of climate change, there will be more events like this in our country. We must be prepared and we must develop a culture of continuous improvement so that we are better each and every time.”

The report is to be issued by July 31.

 

Adam Hodnett, The Canadian Press