Flood clean-up continues in Corner Brook

Cory Hurley
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Thursday’s flooding took its toll on many properties around the city. — Star photo by Cory Hurley

CORNER BROOK  With the water out of their basement, the Kearseys of Georgetown Road have now turned their attention to replacing lost possessions and ensuring the flooding does not happen again.

The first of their priorities, after about three feet of water from a nearby brook ended up in their Corner Brook home Thursday morning, has a standard procedure to follow. Rebecca Kearsey said they are contacting their insurance company to see what will be covered, then will turn to the city to see what they would take responsibility for and hope there’s not much of a financial burden left to them.

Kearsey said there was about three feet of water in their basement during the rainstorm that hammered western Newfoundland Thursday. The brook that trickles behind their property was raging, overpowering the culvert, flooding yards, and actually isolating residents of Candow Drive as it gushed over the street.

Kearsey said she made an early morning 911 call for help after the water began reaching disastrous levels. Her husband Ron discovered a downed tree in the brook that was preventing the water from flowing freely, and it soon overtook the stream bed and rushed through nearby properties and the adjacent street.

She feels if city crews responded faster, not nearly the amount of problems or damages would have happened.

“If the backhoe would have come earlier, we maybe wouldn’t have been flooded,” she said. “We might have got some water, but not as bad as we got.”

The Kearseys have an unfinished basement, but it used for laundry, additional refrigeration, storage, and the furnace and water heater are there.

“We lost pretty well everything we had in the basement,” she said. “Once we get it all cleaned up, we are waiting to get an estimate.

“... Right now, it is just disheartening, and we are trying to get on with it.”

The Kearseys also have a lot of leftover debris throughout their property to clean up.

Thursday, Steve May, director of operational services, said the city did its best to prioritize its responses, and that it may be easier to say what exactly that should have been in hindsight. Although the city is responsible for infrastructure such as culverts and pipes within its limits, he said some of the problems encountered were the result of debris and issues further up streams — a provincial jurisdiction.

May also said the city has been told by experts and government agencies to expect more frequent storms and higher amounts of runoff.

So, Kearsey’s second priority may not be as simple as it sounds. Faster responses are one thing, but keeping streams clear of such debris may be a much more onerous task.

“It makes you feel a little bit unsteady,” she said. “We have been living here so long, and during the summers we clean the brook ourselves.

“If the city came down once and a while and cleaned it out, or when they knew there was a heavy rain coming. But, when we call, they need to come.”

Meanwhile, city crews were continuing the clean up Friday, while also contending with below freezing temperature. City salt trucks were out trying to keep roads safe, while the cold temperature also helped in the drying up of the water through freezing, according to May. The director said the drop in temperature posed no real significant issues.

While city streets that were closed were re-opened, the clean up of debris continued Friday. Petries Street, Charles Street, St. Aidan’s Road, and Gilbert Street were among the most impacted.

However, some shoulders of roads throughout the city were also being monitored for safety because of wash outs — in particular Bear Head Road off of Riverside Drive and Lundrigan Road. There were also water and sewer-related concerns in the Lundrigan Drive and Brook Street areas. May also said the city was controlling the flow of water through some reservoirs to minimize siltation build up in the water supply.

The director said there were no signs of any damage to the Main Street bridge, but it will be further evaluated in the near future to make sure.

“There was nothing I would consider real life safety concerns,” he said.

Candow Drive — a private street — was perhaps the biggest concern in the city, said May. That road is still closed, as the owners consider further evaluation and assessment, and improvements are being done with the secondary access route off Hilliard’s Road, according to the director. Emergency responders have been notified, he said.

Many residents throughout the city had experienced property damage and flooding within their homes. May said staff is reviewing its policies to determine once again where the lines are drawn in terms of responsibility. However, although the city tries to assist whenever it can, the city is not responsible because the damages was not caused by the city itself.

“The main recourse that home owners have is to deal with their insurers,” he said. “That is tough to hear sometimes, when the basement is flooded or property may be sliding away. However, if things aren’t caused by the city, it’s a difficult situation.”

Twitter: WS_CoryHurley

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Georgetown Road, Newfoundland Petries Street Charles Street Gilbert Street Bear Head Road Lundrigan Road Brook Street

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