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A limited state of emergency will continue across much of eastern Newfoundland on Tuesday, five days after a blockbuster blizzard brought the province to a standstill with a record-smashing snowfall and hurricane-force winds.
The storm dumped 75 centimetres of snow in a single day with wind gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour, knocking out power, unleashing an avalanche and burying the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas in deep snow.
Hundreds of soldiers arrived in the province on Monday to help tackle the back-breaking work of digging out, clearing chest-high snow drifts from the driveways and walkways of vulnerable residents as plow drivers worked day and night to clear snow-clogged streets and sidewalks.
St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen called it “the worst storm many of us have ever encountered in our capital city.”
“Our city is still under a deep blanket of snow,” he said Monday in a message posted on YouTube, which included video footage from his tour of the city showing walls of snow towering over a narrow path on the road.
“There is nowhere for people to walk safely,” Breen said. “In many places, two cars cannot pass safely.”
Widespread closures remained in effect across much of the region on Tuesday, with schools, government offices, libraries, the airport and most businesses keeping doors shuttered amid the ongoing clean up.
While a state of emergency continues in cities and towns including St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise and Torbay, restrictions will be lifted for limited hours on Tuesday to allow residents to access gas stations, pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Despite the difficult conditions, many Newfoundland residents shared videos and photos on social media making the most of the snowstorm dubbed "snowmageddon" by some.
One video showed a snowboarder careening down a steep St. John’s street, coasting past the city’s iconic brightly-coloured row houses. In another video, a man is defiantly drinking a beer outside in a t-shirt and shorts as blustery wind and snow swirls around his camping chair.
And another video shows women proudly walking through tunnels of snow in front of their homes while sipping a beverage. Dozens of videos show residents making light of the snow drifts completely blocking doors and garages.
Still, frustrations are growing as many remain captive in their homes.
“We haven’t forgotten you,” Breen said to those still waiting to see a plow down their street. “We’re working hard to get these roads open as quickly as possible and having people off the streets makes that faster and safer to do.”
To help speed up the work, the Canadian Forces said 425 troops will be on the ground by the end of day on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, searchers were expected to continue looking for a 26-year-old man, reported missing since Friday.