Emergency crews head to storm-battered islands that were cut off from mainland

A Canadian Forces plane is heading to the storm-battered Iles-de-la-Madeleine today carrying supplies and personnel to help residents who were cut off from the rest of the province when a fierce winter storm struck Wednesday.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted that a Hercules aircraft is en route with up to 250 Canadian Forces members available to provide assistance. It is expected to land this afternoon after stops to pick up equipment and personnel.

    
Heavy winds knocked out Internet and phone service, but late Thursday, Quebec civil security said telecommunications had been partly restored. The network remained fragile and residents were asked to limit Internet use.
    
Quebec provincial police have been going door-to-door to check on those without power. Sgt. Claude Doiron says a fire burned a low-cost housing complex to the ground Thursday morning, leaving about 40 people homeless. No one was seriously injured.
    
In the aftermath of the storm, residents of the islands were able to call each other on land lines, but couldn't contact the mainland because of damage to underwater cables. Winds of up to 130 km/h and rough seas battered the islands Wednesday, with high winds stretching into Thursday.

Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said Thursday the emergency was beyond the provincial government's capacity to respond so it was necessary to turn to Ottawa.