Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons had to declare a state of emergency in the city Saturday afternoon.
Parsons made the declaration as city and provincial government crews struggled to deal with heavy rainfall and snowmelt, infrastructure damage and an overwhelmed municipal drainage system. The state of emergency was lifted around 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Parsons said Sunday that the city was waiting on updates from provincial fire and emergency services on if there were any concerns about accessing the city. There was also concern over rising river heights in the upper Humber and a delay in backcountry run-off.
Once it was determined none of that would have an effect on the city, and there were no safety risks to residents or drivers, the state of emergency was over.
The state of emergency meant the city activated its emergency response plan and fire protection back up plan.
“It’s amazing when they go into that mode and everything comes into place,” said Parsons. “Everyone knows their role and what to do. I was very impressed with the performance of our staff.”
Parsons said the public works team was out ahead of the weekend in anticipation of Saturday’s weather. The “flash-flood type conditions” eventually overwhelmed the drains, he said. It wasn’t due to debris or blockages.
All available personnel were put to work trying to address the various issues in the city. Parsons said staff dealt with two very major water breaks early on Saturday and will continue to do basic repairs to ensure there won’t be any additional damage from the undermining of the roads with water.
The public was very cooperative in staying away from problem areas, he said, and private contractors were called upon and showed up to do additional work when the city’s equipment was maxed out.
“We had a lot of damage, but it could have been worse,” said Parsons, noting there is no doubt there was millions of dollars in damage done.
Temporary fixes will continue throughout the week, with some repairs impossible to complete until after the winter.
He said the city will make a claim via the provincial government for federal funds for disaster relief money.
While he said they were lucky they haven’t had a major water break with the now-cold temperatures, he expects that will happen and staff is on standby for that.
Highway access into and out of the Corner Brook was suspended Saturday due to infrastructure damage. There were also a number of emergency road closures put into effect.
Route 430 (Deer Lake to Gros Morne Park) was reopened to one lane of traffic at Mill Brook Bridge, with two lanes open at the underground hole area and repairs ongoing.
The bypass around the washed out section of the Trans-Canada Highway near Little Rapids is now open, with provincial staff escorting traffic through. Minor delays were expected. The eastern section of Marble Drive was also open to one lane.
The highway near George’s Lake was open to one lane only due to extreme flooding. The road from Frenchman’s Cove to Lark Harbour remained closed due to heavy flooding.
The forecast for today called for mainly cloudy with a 40 per cent chance of flurries and a low of -9 C. Flurries were expected Monday night, with a 20 km/h northeast wind and a low of -12 C.
The state of emergency declared in Trout River on Saturday, meanwhile, was still ongoing on Sunday night as the Riverside Drive area of town had to be evacuated due to landslides.
“Right now we’re waiting for waters to recede, hopefully tonight it will go back a bit, because right now we can’t see it,” said Mayor Gloria Barnes.
She said Premier Dwight Ball was expected to be in town today and will be able to assess the damage with town staff.
Barnes said Jakeman All Grade School would be open today, as the river that runs behind it — which is now basically running in front of it, she noted — has receded enough.
There is a lot of damage in basements around the town, she said, as water has accumulated around homes.
“If you were looking down at an aerial view of Trout River, there were houses in water,” she said.
A sunny day was expected for Trout River today, with temperatures around -10 and a 20 per cent chance of snow.
Roads that were/are affected in Corner Brook:
• O’Connell Drive: closed to through traffic from the intersection of Country Road to the intersection of Walbourne’s Road
• Philip Drive: closed to through traffic from the intersection of Elizabeth Street to the intersection of Gushue Place
• Elizabeth Street: closed to through traffic from the intersection of Beothuck Crescent to the intersection of Grenfell Drive and from the intersection of Union Street to the intersection of Charles Street
• Main Street Bridge: closed
• Woodbine Ave: closed
• Maple Valley Road: closed
• Porter’s Lane: closed
• Boones Road: closed
• Reid’s Road: closed
A precautionary boil water advisory is in effect due to repairs to the water distribution system until further notice. Affected areas are:
• Elizabeth Street #s 1-75
• Philip Drive to the intersection of Gushue Place
• Gushue Place
• Beothuck Crescent
• Charles Street
Source: City of Corner Brook