Elderly lady and Corner Brook neighbours among victims of flood damage

Published on August 20, 2009

Corner Brook -

When it rains it pours, and unfortunately for residents of the Clarence Street area it floods just about everything in its path.

This area has been identified as an ongoing concern, with multiple occurrences of flooding causing problems for residents and city crews for quite some time.

Heavy rain overnight Tuesday caused severe flooding, which washed dirt and rock across the street and through the yards below. Water and mud covered Clarence Street, while rocks as big as soccer balls were carried into nearby yards with the runoff that ended up in the basements of houses even on Hillview Road.

Gloria Penney is an 84-year-old who lives with her grandson at 143 Clarence Street. Her house is nestled at the bottom of a lengthy driveway that, once the water settled down Wednesday morning, looked like a roadside bomb went off on it.

Her son Wayne said his mother is receiving unwanted grief having to deal with flooding four or five times already this summer.

"Here she is, a cancer survivor and a diabetic, at 84-years-old she is just stressed to pieces," he said. "She can't even talk to you half the time, she is so stressed out. Everything worries her at this stage of the game, and we are just trying to get this straightened out for her."

Penney said they have had to replace the bridge to his mother's house and do numerous repairs to her garden, all at her expense. Despite communicating with city officials on numerous occasions, he said they have been left with nothing but frustration.

"Everybody is in total denial," Penney said. "I went through all the procedures the first time, all the departments, trying to do things the right way. I just keep getting denial and passing the buck from one department to the next.

"I was down (Wednesday) morning, trying to put a bit of pressure on I told them I had to have an answer today, who will make a final decision to reimburse or fix this problem for her."

It's been identified as a problem since the Murphy Square commercial development and a new culvert was placed behind the houses. Some of the residents have been in the area between 20 and 40 years and never had such problems with flooding until recent years.

"This is an ongoing thing - a problem between the Murphy Square development and the City of Corner Brook," Penney said. "All the water flow is moving off of Murphy Square. The City put in a new culvert, but apparently it is not the proper size or there's more water coming off than expected."

Mayor Charles Pender said the issues have indeed been ongoing since the Murphy Square development began.

"As the development grows and changes are made, we seem to be encountering some issues," he said. "Currently, we are working with the property management company, who operates the area, the residences and our own systems to see what can be done."
The mayor said there are also temporary measures being taken to keep the area clean and free of debris prior to impending inclement weather.

Fred and Catherine Boone, who live behind Penney on Hillview Road, had significant flooding in their basement. It was the first time they experienced damage as a result of the runoff problems. About a foot of brown water and dirt ended up in their furnished basement.

Robert Winsor, the tenant of the Boones' basement apartment, said he awoke to a bang shortly after 5 a.m. and stepped out of bed to find himself in a pool of water. When he turned on the light he saw the floor covered in water and realized there had been flooding.

While couches and desks were soaked, he said luckily enough he keeps his electronics off the floor. However, the Boones have a computer in a downstairs room that was drenched and possibly ruined.

Neither know if they can continue to live in the house under those conditions.
"I can't live there," Winsor said. "I am stuck now wondering where I am going to go."

The Boones are also concerned about what the damage will cost, estimating it to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and believe their insurance company considers it an act of God. They are waiting to see what the city will have to say.

Pender said city officials are investigating three cases of flooded residences in the area. He wouldn't address the specific cases, but advised anybody who has experienced damages to file a claim at city hall.