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Deer Lake still preparing for major problems on streets impacted by river erosion

Newfoundland Power crews work to connect power lines to a pole that was moved from one side of Pine Tree Drive in Deer Lake to the other after it was compromised due to riverbank erosion.
Newfoundland Power crews work to connect power lines to a pole that was moved from one side of Pine Tree Drive in Deer Lake to the other after it was compromised due to riverbank erosion. - Photo by Roxanne Ryland

It’s been a quiet few days watching the Humber River, but that barely puts Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball at ease.

Ball is still quite confident that further significant erosion of the banks along both Pine Tree Drive and Riverbank Road are inevitable.

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Large chunks of the higher banks along Pine Tree Drive have already collapsed into the river, taking with it some private property belonging to four homes on that side of the road.

It has also claimed parts of the bank owned by the town and forced the relocation of four utility poles across the street.

The river has always been eating away at the riverbank to some degree, but it really has been a major problem since mild weather and a rainstorm struck the area two weeks ago today. Another, though far less severe, mild spell this past Wednesday came and went without doing too much further damage, but the main problem is not going to go away.

“Our biggest concern is we are going to lose a portion of road on Pine Tree and, in my own opinion, our water and sewer infrastructure there along with it,” Ball said.

The town is in the process of securing the services of environmental engineers to do a professional analysis of the situation and, hopefully, come up with suggestions on how to slow or mitigate the inevitable erosion.

Riverbank Road, which is on the opposite side and downriver from Pine Tree Drive, is another area that has been monitored for erosion by the town for years. A section of that road dropped by about six or eight inches in the recent major storm that forced water levels up dramatically. Ball said there are new cracks — albeit small ones — appearing in that road’s pavement, suggesting it too is still being undermined by the river’s strong current.

Folks on Riverbank Road have had their street reduced to being a one-way thoroughfare.

The town has urged the residents of the four most vulnerable homes on Pine Tree Drive to voluntarily evacuate, but none have chosen to leave just yet.

Both affected streets remained closed to the general public and accessible to only the people who live on them. Both are normally dead-end streets, but currently have temporary access routes established at the far end where traffic would normally have to turn around.

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