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Military deploys to N.S., P.E.I., N.L. to help with Fiona clean up

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Hundreds of Canadian military personnel are deploying to communities in Atlantic Canada affected by post-tropical storm Fiona to assist with clean-up efforts, the commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic said in a news conference Monday.

Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia says the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) received requests for support from the provincial governments of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

He says more than 100 CAF members are either on route or currently in, each of those locations.

“We have been tasked to provide assistance to all three of those provinces by putting troops forward who can clear the way from debris and make the job easier to restore power,” said Santarpia during the news conference.

He says CAF members are now in Cape Breton and a command and control element is on its way to the island from Truro, N.S.

Christina Lamey, a communications officer with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, says troops are working alongside Nova Scotia Power crews to assist in power-restoration efforts.

The P.E.I. government has asked the CAF for help in specific communities, where Santarpia says members from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown are deploying.

In Newfoundland, Santarpia says the Canadian forces are gathering its members from various militia units and are making their way to the western side of the province to help.

Santarpia says an Arctic patrol vessel, HMCS Margaret Brook, has been tasked with conducting wellness checks along the south coast of Newfoundland, as it makes its way to Port-au-Basque, N.L., where the storm swept entire homes out to sea.

According to the commander, his forces are taking lessons learned from Hurricane Juan in 2003 and applying them to Fiona recovery efforts.

Santarpia says each immediate response unit is equipped with kits containing tools, chainsaws and other equipment needed to clear a path.

However, he says the units lack the heavy vehicles required to remove large pieces of debris -- a job he says will be done in coordination with local municipalities.

“It’s really a case of many hands make light work,” said Santarpia.

In each community, the commander says CAF members will stay in the nearest military reserve base, to not draw resources away from residents.

“We won’t be a burden on anybody when we bring troops in. We will be able to sustain them ourselves.”

If more troops are needed, Santarpia says they could be pulled from CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick.

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