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Deer Lake neighbourhood worried about losing property to the Humber River

Ruby Moss, who lives in the Pine Tree Drive area of Deer Lake, surveys the devastation of the eroding banks of the flooded Humber River along the street earlier this week. More land has given way since this photo was taken.
Ruby Moss, who lives in the Pine Tree Drive area of Deer Lake, surveys the devastation of the eroding banks of the flooded Humber River along the street earlier this week. More land has given way since this photo was taken. - Submitted

Fifteen feet wide, 150 feet long and about 20 feet deep — and growing.

That’s what Christine May figures was the amount of property belonged to her parents that had been claimed this week by the Humber River, as of Friday afternoon.

May and many of her relatives live in the Pine Tree Drive area of Deer Lake.

The road is on the edge of the Humber River, which has been dangerously high with water and jammed with ice being sent down from the higher terrain on the eastern side of Gros Morne National Park.

The banks under the road are sandy. May’s parents, Hazen and Jane Janes, had planted numerous large birch trees with the hopes the root systems would keep the bank intact when the waters and ice came.

Many of those trees have fallen, or will soon tumble, into the mighty Humber. Their vegetable garden has already disappeared and the ground beneath their travel trailer gave way moments after it was moved earlier this week.

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The family’s dock and other property are also now somewhere in the river.

The Janes home, along with four other houses on the river side of Pine Tree Drive are in jeopardy as the situation continues. The Town of Deer Lake urged the residents of two of those homes, including the Janeses, to evacuate Thursday.

May, whose mom is in Alberta and father didn’t want to be interviewed, said no one has evacuated just yet.

She said her father has had trouble sleeping, but doesn’t see the need to get out until things get even worse than they are.

“If it comes in past the gazebo, then I’m dragging him out if he won’t go himself,” May said.

May hasn’t been waiting until the last minute to be prepared. She has begun removing important items from the house and has much more all packed up and ready to move when the time is deemed necessary to do so.

She has seen the water up high before. In fact, May said the water breached the banks in 1997 and flooded basements.

This is a different beast, she cautioned. The Upper Humber is still full of ice that could come down and tear the bank further apart.

The town and other officials, including the provincial government and utility companies, have been keeping a close eye on the developing situation. Some utility poles on Pine Tree Drive had to be moved this week because the ground was foundering beneath them.

May has been constantly checking the conditions and acting as her family’s eyes and ears, as well as posting regular updates for them on social media.

Like her other family members in the neighbourhood, she can’t believe what she’s seeing.

“It’s hard to believe,” she said. “Hopefully, nothing else happens, but we still have the spring thaw yet.”

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