IGOR HITS HARD

Prop­er­ties, roads af­fected by hur­ri­cane

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON & TERRY ROBERTS

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.

Photo by Bill Bow­man/The Com­pass

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.

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