IGOR HITS HARD
Properties, roads affected by hurricane
There was plenty of damage to assess in the Conception Bay North and Trinity South regions in the wake of Hurricane Igor’s arrival last Tuesday, Sept. 21, but it could have been a lot worse.
According to data made available by Environment Canada, a private weather station in Brownsdale recorded 104 millimetres of rainfall by 5:30 p.m. that day, and peak wind gusts in Grate’s Cove reached 135 kilometres per hour.
For the full day, St. John’s experienced 135 mm of rain. The heavy weather activity uprooted trees, took siding and shingles off homes, flooded basements, caused power outrages, closed businesses and schools, and washed-out roads.
Staff at The Compass were forced out of its Carbonear office after water began to seep into the building on Tuesday.
While the hurricane did have an impact on the local area, its affect was mild compared with people’s experiences on the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas, where rainfall amounts topped 200 mm. Combined with strong winds, the hurricane left many communities cut off from outside help, with main roads becoming impassable.
Harbour Grace mayor Don Coombs says his community was impacted “quite deeply” by the hurricane, whose strength was heightened by combining with a stationary front from the north that provided extra energy to the storm, according to Environment Canada.
“ There was a lot of damage to personal property. Of course, everyone had damage with the trees, trees down across wires, and flooding.”
Town crews also had to repair portions of roads that were being eroded by the torrent of water in the ditches, and the mayor said there was damage to one of the new hangars and a plane at the Harbour Grace Airfield.
The fire department responded to some of the floods, and kept an eye on worrisome power lines in order to determine if any evacuations from homes was necessary.
“ We had it bad, and when that rain started at 12:30 p.m., that was a big rain. We’ve never seen anything like that. In the wintertime, we’ll get a bit of snow and runoff, but the ground is frozen, and this time the trees were in full bloom and the ground was soft, so there was a lot of damage in a lot of places.”
With many officials in the provincial government keeping an eye on what went on during the hurricane, Coombs says he hopes Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy and Premier Danny Williams will offer help to the area, as well as the federal government.
In a press release sent out by the province last Wednesday, the government called the scale of the storm “unprecedented,” and the level of infrastructure damage “severe.”
Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador and the departments of Municipal Affairs and Transportation and Works were monitoring affected areas and assessing damage. The press release advised residents to document losses and damage, stay clear of downed power lines, and to disconnect the power supply from water-logged appliances.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vouched to offer federal assistance to areas affected by Hurricane Igor. He travelled to the province on Friday.
In the Town of Clarke’s Beach, Mayor Betty Moore was breathing a sigh of relief the day after the storm. The infrastructure improvements made and the lessons learned following the havoc raised by tropical storm Chantal in August 2007 had paid off, she said
“ We faired reasonably well,” she said. “ We had no major problems.”
The town installed new culverts in recent years, and town staff were diligent in the hours leading up to the storm, ensuring that all drains were free of debris.
“ We were more prepared,” she said. But the town didn’t escape unscathed. There was serious erosion of the shoulders on Hill Avenue, some of which was paved this summer, and it took a determined effort to prevent homes along Motion Avenue and Brook Avenue from flooding. Numerous trees were also felled by the high winds. Moore praised the efforts of town staff.
Spaniard’s Bay Mayor John Drover said his community “got off fairly lucky” compared to other regions of the province.
There was some erosion of streets, and some basements were flooded, but there was “ no serious damage reported.”
He said the new bridge on The Beach, which was constructed last year following the devastation of Tropical Storm Chantal, held up well.
In Bay Roberts, two municipal employees were lucky to escape injury when the main outdoor stage at the recreation complex was flattened by high winds. A town pickup, however, sustained major damage in the incident.
There were also many frayed nerves at the marina in Bay Roberts, where sail boats caught in the winds were pulling constantly at their mooring lines, and some were concerned a floating dock with several boats tethered to it would not hold up to the winds.
“All we can do is watch and hope for the best right now,” Steve Armiger, owner of the Calypso, a 32-foot sail boat, said while standing watch on the wharf.
Meanwhile, at the tip of Trinity South, Bay de Verde managed to get through the storm in fair shape, according to Deputy Mayor Gordon Coish.
“ Basically, we survived pretty good,” he says, adding there was wind damage to some properties and washouts on roads.
In the small community of New Chelsea, local service district committee member Linda Pynn says the brook connecting to the harbour was a “raging torrent” during the storm, and washed away a wooden bridge in the process. There was also flooding in the area, along with power outages.
Further along Trinity South in Whiteway, Mayor Craig Whalen says his community was lucky it did not have as many problems as it did three years ago when Tropical Storm Chantal made its presence felt.
“ When we had Chantal, we had a lot of damage,” said the mayor.
“ We didn’t have any major washouts. The biggest one we had was up by the golf course in by the senior’s home,” he says.
After a prior rainfall affected the road leading to the golf course, the Department of Transportation and Works added a new culvert to help the road, but Whalen said it did not help for Hurricane Igor.
“ I think they’re going to have to look at doing something different than what they’ve done there,” says the mayor
“ I guess we were lucky we never got the brunt of the weather like (weather forecasters) were calling for,” Whalen said.
Water rushes over Fox Farm Road just west of the traffic lights on Columbus Drive in Carbonear. The water eroded the ground around the base of a pole carrying transmission lines in the area. Concern over the potential danger of the pole blowing down in its weakened condition forced Carbonear town council crews to close the road. The road closure, one of the victims of Hurricane Igor’s whirlwind visit last Tuesday, Sept. 21, also forced an early closure for the busy Canadian Tire store on the corner.