PORT AU PORT — Joe Martin still believes a gap in a breakwater in front of his house at a strip of land connecting Port au Port East and Port au Port West, known as The Gravels, needs to be closed.
A recent storm reaffirmed his fears.
The Gravels is a small isthmus connecting the Port au Port Peninsula to the island of Newfoundland.
Martin said for the past two years he has been asking the Department of Transportation and Works to fill in the gap — a 45-foot section of the refurbished breakwater that was left open.
The timber breakwater formerly at the location was replaced in 2010 with an armour stone structure, however, a storm on Dec. 24, 2010 resulted in flooding over the road at the location.
At that time, Department of Transportation and Works engineers determined maintaining the gap to accommodate the fisherman’s beach access didn’t pose a significant risk to the Port au Port highway.
Department crews investigated the flooding at that time and deemed the water on the roadway was from water seeping through the beach due to extremely high tides in unusual weather.
But a similar type of storm on Sept. 1 resulted in the waves lapping through the gap once again and Martin having to struggle to save his boat and another boat moored at the slipway.
He still believes the gap should be closed in, and said he would “rig up something else” for his boat if the gap was closed. His biggest fear is a severe storm could result in people from the Port au Port Peninsula being isolated from the rest of the island due to a road washout at The Gravels.
“What’s going to happen is that someone who requires emergency medical attention won’t be able to get to the hospital because the road will be flooded out,” Martin said.
He said he’s contacted the Department of Transportation and Works on different occasions and nothing has been done about the situation.
Another fear for Martin is that he and his wife may get stranded in their home since the pond next to him has risen dramatically in the past resulting in them not being able to use the road that leads from their house to the isthmus.
Martin has lived at the location for 65 years and said there have now been five instances when the seawater has come through. He said in December 1982 he lost a car there and in December 1994 his shed was flooded, with the water coming within four feet of his house.