More troops, more assistance pledged for the Maritimes

Central Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser provides an update on the situation in his home province. Blackburn News Image.

There are now 700 Canadian Armed Forces personnel in the Maritimes helping with the clean up from post-tropical storm Fiona.

Central Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser said there are a lot of people in need of serious assistance.

“Some of the things that I’m hearing at home right now, is the people who might even have insurance coverage have no estimate of the timeline that it’s going to take to get a contractor to come and do some of the work,” said Fraser. “And of course many people are left wondering whether they will have coverage for some of the damage that’s been inflicted on their homes.”

Fraser said what sticks out for him despite the damage is the way the province’s communities are coming together.

“We see people showing up with chainsaws to cut down trees that have fallen on people’s homes,” said Fraser. “We’ve had a food bank set up at [St. Francis Xavier University] where more than 100 students were displaced just so students could help one another. In Cape Breton, I heard stories the other day of a group of international students who built a fire and started preparing food in the streets to support people in the community who didn’t have the ability to feed themselves.”

It’s not just home owners affected by the storm. The fisheries industry has been particularly hard hit.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard said the scope of loss for fish harvesters has been immense.

She said 180 of the 706 small craft harbours in the Maritimes were hit by Fiona. She said 99 are only partly operational, 20 need further assessment, and five are not operational at all.

“Tuesday I met with Fisheries Ministers from Atlantic Canada and I’m in contact with fish harvesters from across the region,” said Murray. “And I am ready to work with them on any requests for season extensions.”

Murray would not say what support may be available for fish harvesters who lost their gear in the storm but did say those conversations were ongoing.

The situation is just ask bleak for some farmers.

MP Francis Drouin said Fiona struck at the worst possible time, right before harvest.

“Prince Edward Island was particularly hard hit with the crops such as apples and corn destroyed just before harvest,” said Drouin. “Storage facilities [were] flattened and livestock [were] trapped in collapsed barns.”