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October 1, 2010

Ministers Outline Provincial Government’s Response to Impacts of Igor

Recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Igor is a massive undertaking which has progressed well over the last 10 days, especially given the wide-scale nature of the impacts, says the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Transportation and Works and Acting Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness. Minister Hedderson provided an overview today on the Provincial Government’s response to the impacts of the hurricane and was joined by the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, who provided details of her department’s role in the response. The ministers were also accompanied by Mike Samson, Chief Executive Officer for Fire and Emergency Services - Newfoundland and Labrador.

"As we enter Day 10 of our recovery from a hurricane that caused widespread and severe impacts to a large portion of our province, our government’s focus remains reconnecting all communities isolated as a result of Igor, providing emergency supplies as needed, and helping individuals and communities recover from the worst storm this province has seen in generations," said Minister Hedderson. "Given the severity of the damage, we’ve come a long way in just 10 days. I want to assure residents that progress will continue. My thoughts are never far from those who have experienced significant losses and trauma as a result of this catastrophic event."

Of the approximate 90 communities which were isolated due to multiple road breakages and bridge washouts following the storm, 84 are reconnected, with the goal to have the remainder reconnected within the coming days. Damage to road infrastructure was severe and widespread, with road breaches numbering approximately 100. Nearly 90 per cent of those road breaches has been addressed.

"The incredible fact is that the landscape of our province will be forever changed as a result of Hurricane Igor," said Minister Hedderson. "We have, though, made tremendous progress in a short time. I must remind residents that many of the road and bridge repairs we have completed are temporary given that permanent repairs are not possible in most cases due to the proximity of winter. It is important that motorists exercise extreme caution, reduce their speed and obey all signage on roadways in storm damaged areas. We will continue our work to ensure roads are reconnected and will plan to take up remaining work in the spring as we transition from temporary to permanent repairs."

Fire and Emergency Services – Newfoundland and Labrador has coordinated efforts from the beginning, helping to lay out a plan for departments, agencies and outside partners to assist those most affected and most in need. Since Igor’s onslaught, more than 3,000 phone calls through the emergency toll-free line – answering questions, directing calls and alerting the Emergency Operations Centre to urgent, emergency situations. Contact is continuing with the communities still without road access to major centres. Fire and Emergency Services has co-ordinated the delivery of food, fuel and other essential supplies by air, sea and land. This included more than 50 air drops to areas where help was most needed.

"The Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment has been working diligently with Fire and Emergency Services – Newfoundland and Labrador, to provide disaster assistance and emergency social services for those who have been affected by Hurricane Igor," said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. "This assistance has ranged from providing emergency accommodations to assisting with food distribution. Based on our previous experience, the most significant role for our staff in the coming weeks will be to provide counselling supports as individuals and families come to grips with the impact Igor has had on their lives. The department will continue to provide support for as long as necessary."

During the onset of the storm, Emergency Social Services established reception centres in St. John’s, Clarenville and Bonavista that housed over 100 displaced individuals. Shortly thereafter, food distribution was coordinated by land, sea and air, and nonperishable and perishable food supplies and water were distributed to 40 communities supporting approximately 4,000 people. The Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment has mobilized staff to deal with the needs of persons affected by the hurricane and will identify and assign resources as necessary to ensure any emerging needs are responded to.

"As the residents of our province rebuild from the enormous impacts of this hurricane, it is important that they have accurate information from experts in the environmental and emergency services fields," said Minister Hedderson. "Eleven regional information sessions have been organized, bringing together representatives from Fire and Emergency Services and Human Resources, Labour and Employment to explain the Provincial Disaster Assistance and Emergency Social Services Programs, and from other departments and agencies to provide the supports and information required and requested by our residents."

Minister Hedderson also acknowledged the valuable contributions of those who have partnered with the Provincial Government in the response effort.

"I have to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the many volunteers, workers, communities and organizations involved in our rebuilding after Hurricane Igor – all have played an important role," said Minister Hedderson. "And of course, the contributions of our Canadian Forces have been much appreciated by our government and the people of our province."

Further information regarding the recovery from Hurricane Igor can be found at www.gov.nl.ca,  including information on Disaster Assistance Program information sessions which will start on Saturday, October 2.

NOTE: Please see below for links to maps and photographs related to Hurricane Igor.

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Media contacts:

Cheryl Gullage
Public Relations Specialist
Fire and Emergency Services-Newfoundland
and Labrador
709-729-0857, 631-9962
CherylGullage@gov.nl.ca

Heather Maclean
Director of Communications
Department of Municipal Affairs
709-729-1983, 697-4237
heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca
Roger Scaplen
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 697-5267
rogerscaplen@gov.nl.ca 
Bradley Power
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-0753, 699-5707
bradleypower@gov.nl.ca

2010 10 01                                                 3:05 p.m.


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