February 25th, 2024

Coast guard cadets called in to help as Cape Breton digs out from record snowfall

By The Canadian Press on February 7, 2024.

Nova Scotia Health says non-emergency services in its Eastern zone will continue to be reduced following a weekend snowstorm. A truck is abandoned on a snow-covered street after a winter storm in Sydney, N.S. on Monday, Feb.5, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Shane Wilkie

Officer cadets from the Canadian Coast Guard College in Cape Breton were called in Wednesday to help shovel a record-breaking amount of snow from the clogged streets of Sydney, where a local state of emergency remains in effect.

Cadets started shovelling Monday near the college in the nearby Westmount area, but 100 of them were expected to board buses to help residents who remain trapped in their homes by huge drifts left behind by a 150-centimetre snowfall on the weekend, coast guard spokesman Harvey Vardy says.

“The province will decide where they go,” Vardy said in an interview Wednesday.

On Monday, federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan said three coast guard helicopters were available to help with potential evacuations or to shuttle essential supplies, including fuel.

Vardy, the coast guard’s regional director of response programs, said the helicopters are stationed at the Sydney airport, but they had yet to be put to use.

“There has been no formal request for the coast guard helicopters,” Vardy said.

Meanwhile, schools and most government offices were closed for a third day across Cape Breton. As well, Nova Scotia Health announced that non-emergency services would be reduced across the island, and in the eastern counties of Antigonish and Guysborough on the Nova Scotia mainland.

The provincial government says residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the Eskasoni First Nation should avoid unnecessary travel. The regional municipality, which includes Sydney, says city hall remains closed and transit services and waste collection are still paused.

The province says more than 1,000 people are working around the clock using about 400 pieces of equipment to remove snow across Nova Scotia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2024.

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