Loading articles...

'Everything is snow-covered': Army arriving, cleanup begins after crippling storm buries parts of N.L.

Last Updated Jan 20, 2020 at 8:00 am MST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. (NEWS 1130) – Up to 300 Canadian Armed Forces members will have arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador to help communities dig out from more than 100 centimetres of snow by the end of Monday.

The assistance comes after a crippling storm buried many parts of the province, prompting a number of state of emergency declarations for places like St. John’s.

“Monday morning, we woke up to another load of snow on top of what we already received over the weekend, so it’s just been unlike anything we’ve ever really seen here in the St. John’s area,” Ben Murphy, a legislative reporter with VOCM Local News Now, says.

While more than 70 centimetres of snow fell from the sky, drifts up to 15 and 30 feet high were reported after the record breaking system passed. An additional 12 to 15 centimetres fell overnight Sunday into Monday.

“On top of what was already on the ground before the blizzard, we’re dealing with now about 127 centimetres of snow on the ground,” he explains.

Businesses are obliged to close and all non-emergency vehicles are aren’t allowed on the roads while a state of emergency is still in place. It’s been temporarily lifted in some communities, but Murphy says the whole ordeal has created a lot of confusion.

“The St. John’s metro region includes a few neighbouring communities,” he explains. “A lot of people in these communities work in other communities. So right now, the state of emergency is in effect for St. Johns, that means people, technically, aren’t allowed to leave their homes unless it is dire circumstance, unless it is an emergency, people are said to stay off the roads.”

He says there are some exceptions, for example, a number of gas stations have been allowed to open for refuel purposes for snow clearing. Pharmacies are also allowed to open for a few hours so people can get their medication, Murphy adds, but corner stores and grocery stores are not allowed to open for business as of yet in the capital.

Meanwhile, hospitals are only offering care for emergencies and urgent needs.

Murphy calls the scene post-storm “almost apocalyptic.”

“Everywhere you look, everything is snow-covered. Normally where you would see tons of traffic, tons of cars, it’s just snow-covered, barren, and empty,” Murphy tells NEWS 1130 of conditions.

“The one that really struck a chord with me was on our highways — which is normally a four-lane divided highway — there are two plows going through the centre, and you would never even know there was a highway there, it just looks like open space in the middle of nowhere.”

Images and video posted to social media shows people digging their cars out from under feet of snow. In some cases, people have been posting pictures of their entryways — doorframes completely blocked by walls of solid snow.

At the peak of the storm, which some have described as being like a blizzard in a hurricane, even snowplows were pulled off roads due to near zero visibility conditions.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its sense of community, especially in tough times, Murphy says.

While there are serious concerns for senior citizens and people with disabilities right now, he says he’s proud of the way East Coasters come together.

“One tweet kind of jumped out at me, and people were actually saying you almost have a fear, like you’re feeling like you’re missing out, seeing all these Newfoundlanders come together, albeit, you know, getting dumped on with almost 100 centimetres of snow. But yet, everyone is really just making the most of it.”

-With files from The Canadian Press