Tim Houston says he'd like 1,000 troops on the ground
Premier Tim Houston wants 1,000 members of the military working on the ground in Nova Scotia to help with the cleanup of the devastation post-tropical storm Fiona wreaked on the province last weekend.
Houston told reporters in Halifax on Thursday that his government has made a formal request for the federal government to deploy more troops. He said there are about 350 members of the military already helping with the cleanup.
"I am thankful to the federal government for that, but we need so much more," he said.
"We have incredible military resources stationed right here in this province and I know that they would want to help. I know that they would drop everything to help."
With thousands of people still without power, Houston said the more people available to help clear trees and move and clean up debris, the faster the restoration process can be completed.
Speaking to CBC News on Thursday, National Defence Minister Anita Anand said her department would evaluate Houston's request for more assistance.
"The Canadian Armed Forces wants to continue to help in any way we possibly can and that's something we'll consider doing."
Anand said the federal government has already approved a revised submission from Newfoundland and Labrador for further assistance. Military support would remain in the Atlantic region to help as long as it is required, she said.
The minister, who is originally from Nova Scotia, said she's never seen a storm like Fiona.
The provincial government announced on Thursday its latest storm relief program: a one-time $2,500 grant for registered small businesses forced to close for at least five days due to the storm. The program is expected to cost about $10 million, with application details to be released soon.
Support program applications open
The announcement comes on the same day applications opened for previously announced programs to support people who suffered food loss because they were without power, had to pay for tree or debris removal on their property, or were ordered to find another place to stay because of damage to their homes.
The total amount of support pledged by the province so far is about $50 million.
"Government's job is to help people when they need it the most," said Houston. "Now is that time in this province."
The premier said the government is looking at support programs for other sectors affected by the storm, including agriculture and forestry.
Agricultural industry 'hit very hard'
Nova Scotia's agriculture minister, Greg Morrow, said he's talking with his federal counterpart and ministers from the other Atlantic provinces to determine what is possible.
Morrow, who has been touring farms since Sunday, said the amount of damage he's witnessed is significant.
"The sector has been hit very hard," he told reporters.
"I've been very clear with the department: leave no stone unturned and make it happen quickly. We've got to get moving here. This can't wait."
Along with damage to structures, Morrow said another concern is a large loss of corn crop.
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