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State of emergency lifted in Lark Harbour and York Harbour

A backhoe works to clear landslide debris from Route 450 on the south shore of the Bay of Islands between Halfway Point and Benoit's Cove last Saturday morning. This issue would turn out to be the least of the problems with the road.
A backhoe works to clear landslide debris from Route 450 on the south shore of the Bay of Islands between Halfway Point and Benoit's Cove last Saturday morning. This issue would turn out to be the least of the problems with the road. - Gary Kean

Things are a little quieter in the sister communities of Lark Harbour and York Harbour.

York Harbour Mayor Charlie Kendell was at the community centre around 10 a.m. Thursday to sign papers officially lifting the nearly week-long state of emergency for the area.

“The phone never rung three times,” he said.

Route 450 officially reopened to one lane of traffic at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, after being closed all week due to two separate issues — the main one being a section of road at Rattlers Brook washing away entirely, leaving the two communities detached from the rest of the island.

Making matters worse, there was roadway slippage up near John’s Beach, which shut down that section of road to everything but emergency vehicles. That unfortunately meant heavy equipment needed for repairs at Rattlers Brook was unable to reach the area.

Once the road near John’s Beach was reopened Tuesday, real progress was made, leading to the Wednesday night reopening.

Thursday morning saw a string of traffic heading up the highway, crossing the still-narrow section of road, with people finally making it back to their jobs in the city they were forced to be absent from, or gathering grocery items and other supplies that may have been running low.

“I can’t say it was pure chaos or anything, but it was a little bit scary at times,” admitted Lark Harbour Mayor Melanie Joyce of the isolation incident her town found itself in.

About 45 minutes away from Corner Brook, with no cell service, the two towns are a little off the grid at the best of times.

“You’re thinking about if we lost power, if we lost telephone service, or a storm, or any medical emergencies,” said Joyce. “Luckily, everything worked out.”

During the week, while repairs were ongoing, a helicopter service was bringing people with medical appointments or issues as far as Benoit’s Cove so they could make their way to Corner Brook unimpeded. On Tuesday, Coast Guard auxiliary member Alan Sheppard and Gerard Joyce, Melanie’s husband, took Sheppard’s ship, the Western Leader, from Lark Harbour to Benoit’s Cove to bring back much-needed items like bread, milk, eggs and furnace oil.

Kendell expressed his appreciation to all residents of both communities for their cooperation during trying times. He said there wasn’t a single complaint and everyone pulled their weight to help out.

“Everybody combined into one,” he said. “It’s amazing how it went.”

It wasn’t just watching those hard-working residents able to drive out of the two towns that was a nice change of pace on Thursday, as apparently there was one visitor in particular that was a sight for sore eyes.

“The beer truck arrived too,” Kendell exclaimed with a laugh.

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