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Canada

St. John's stores opening but premier says it could be 'weeks' before city back to normal

It could be days, possibly weeks, before the St. John's region returns to normal after Friday's storm, according to Premier Dwight Ball. But residents may get a hint of what life was like before the blizzard on Tuesday, as some businesses open their doors for the first time since the city was slammed by a massive snowstorm.

Gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores are permitted to open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday and city officials are urging residents to stock up for at least two days — but also to remain civil and drive slow.

As community food sharing groups pop up online and supplies inside homes dwindle, grocery store owners are expecting serious traffic. 

Two cab companies, City Wide Taxi and Bugdens, are also allowed to transport customers within that window.

"We have never seen it like this before," Ball said on Power and Politics Monday night, describing the volume of snow the city has to remove or push aside in order to allow vehicles through the streets.

Ball also applauded the mass "humanitarian effort" by members of the military, who were sent in to help with post-storm recovery. Personnel and equipment landed on the island Sunday night and will likely remain until at least the end of the week, Ball said.

The Canadian Forces are expected to have 450 troops on the ground by the end of Tuesday.

Those already in the region spent much of Monday digging trenches from front doors to streets.

"Our troops will be there as long as needed," said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan at a news conference in Winnipeg. "We'll make sure we don't leave until the job is done."

Some of the top priorities for the troops are to clear roads, attend to elderly and sick residents and ensure that people who need medical care get to hospitals and clinics. 

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