January 31, 2017 / 7:31 PM / 2 years ago

Military deployed to ice storm clean-up in Canada's New Brunswick

(Reuters) - Around 14,000 people are still without power in the Canadian maritime province of New Brunswick a week after a devastating ice storm, the provincial government said on Tuesday, as more troops arrived to assist with clean-up operations.

The Canadian military is sending another 30 personnel to join 200 already helping clear debris, while hundreds of volunteers are going door-to-door to check on residents.

Two people have died and another 34 needed hospital treatment for illnesses related to carbon monoxide poisoning, prompting government warnings about the danger of running generators and cooking on an open flame inside houses.

“Using a propane or kerosene heater indoors to keep pipes from freezing during an extended power outage is dangerous as these products create carbon monoxide. It is not worth risking your health or your life,” provincial fire marshal Douglas Browne said in a statement.

New Brunswickers are also being cautioned about the risk of hypothermia and frostbite as temperatures hover around minus 8 Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) in the worst-hit area of the Acadian Peninsula in the northeast of the province. The government has opened warming centers to help residents shelter from the cold.

Premier Brian Gallant said the province will initiate a Disaster Financial Assistance program and provide C$100,000 ($77,000) to help local food banks.

“We need to keep New Brunswickers safe. Getting them their power or ensuring they are at one of the many warming centers is a priority,” Gallant said.

At the peak of the storm more than 130,000 people were without power, and the provincial government said 380 crews are on the ground dealing with outages.

Clean-up efforts are being hampered by extreme amounts of ice still covering gear and infrastructure, the provincial government said.

Paul Bradley, spokesman for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said this had become the most extensive storm restoration effort in recent history for NB Power, the provincial utility.

New Brunswick deals with ice storms of varying intensity every winter, and most result in minor damage to energy infrastructure. The last major power disruptions were in December 2013.

“At this time it is premature to speculate how much the cost of recovery will be from this storm,” Bradley said.

Over the weekend Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message of support, urging the people of New Brunswick to “stay safe and keep warm.”

Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and James Dalgleish

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