A man is missing after Hurricane Igor blasted across much of Newfoundland with powerful winds and heavy rain.
The 80-year-old man from Random Island, about 150 kilometres west of St John's, was swept into the ocean after his driveway washed away, according to police.
Police said they were told the man went out into the weather to check on a friend's summer home.
"We haven't been able to confirm much about the report because the road to Random Island is washed away. Air travel is impossible and of course sea travel is impossible. We are really at a standstill. We are unable to do the investigation," said RCMP Sgt. Merrill Boyd.
See dramatic video of a road being washed out Tuesday at Beau Bois, on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula. Warning: Strong language.
The incident happened Tuesday near Britannia, on Random Island in Trinity Bay, when a roadway crumbled beneath the man's feet around 10 a.m., paramedic Chris Hansford told CBC News in a phone interview.
"We have an unconfirmed tragedy, in that we have a gentleman apparently that fell through the road," Hansford said from Random Island.
The man had been "looking at the runoff and the water and the pavement collapsed beneath his feet, and we have quite a few rescuers now trying to locate him," he added.
Hansford said it appeared that the man was swept away into a brook and then into salt water.
Hurricane Igor blew into southern and eastern Newfoundland Tuesday with enough force to close roads, shut down highway traffic, and put some coastal communities at risk.
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Igor collapsed roads, brought down bridges, destroyed culverts, knocked out power and even sparked a couple of house fires as it pushed aggressively through Newfoundland, dropping more than 200 millimetres of rain.
Tougher than expected
Igor had been expected to drop to a tropical storm by the time it reached Atlantic Canada, but Environment Canada issued a hurricane watch for parts of Newfoundland Tuesday morning. Igor is now expected to bring winds as high as 140 km/h.
On Tuesday afternoon, Igor was downgraded to a post-tropical storm.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre said the storm would continue buffeting eastern Newfoundland with hurricane-force winds Tuesday afternoon. The centre said it is not a downgrade in intensity, but a downgrade in classification.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams called a news conference late Tuesday afternoon to say there is no need to declare a provincewide state of emergency.
"We don't feel at this point in time there is a general need for a state of emergency," said Williams. "We do obviously have a serious situation but it appears to be very much in control."
Health officials were scrambling to make emergency services available to thousands of people who suddenly lost their sole access to other communities.
Parts of the Trans-Canada Highway were closed, including the stretch through Terra Nova National Park. As many as 7,000 households and businesses were without power.
In Glovertown, in central Newfoundland, firefighters tackled two different fires, both of which were connected with power lines that had been dragged down in the storm. Both fires were brought under control with no injuries.
Highways looked more like swimming pools, with some impassable.
The town of Clarenville, a key service centre in eastern Newfoundland, ordered a state of emergency to help crews deal with flooding that swamped roads.
Similar decisions were made in 14 other towns, including Bonavista, Port Rexton, Garnish, Trinity, Sunnyside, Terrenceville, Gambo, Glovertown and Norman’s Cove.
Sunnyside Mayor Robert Snook said a section of the main road in the town is washed out, leaving about half of the Trinity Bay community cut off.
Snook said water and sewage lines were broken by flooding. Two emergency centres have been set up for clean water and other essentials.
In St. Lawrence, winds were high enough to rip away the roof of a hardware store.
The main regional highway on the Burin Peninsula, one of the hardest hit areas of the province, was effectively closed from the Trans-Canada Highway by late Tuesday morning.
Several bridges and roads were reported as washed out.
"People have to remain at home, for the most part," said RCMP Sgt. Boyd Merrill.
"Mother Nature is really giving a pounding to the Burin Peninsula right now."
Authorities were also responding to reports of a bridge washout that could shut down highway traffic in the entire region.
"It's a bit stressful," Sam Synard, the mayor of Marystown, told CBC News.
Numerous communities on the Burin Peninsula were cut off because of flooded roads.
"It's been pretty crazy," said Beverley Pardy of Garden Cove, where a metre of water has pooled over the sole road leading to other communities.
"No one can get in or out of the community. The wind is just howling here now and the rain is just pouring, pouring down."
In Gambo, in central Newfoundland, flooding forced residents of several homes to leave their properties.
The Eastern School District, which manages the education system in the eastern half of the island, including St. John's, closed schools for the day. Many public services were also closed.
The hurricane watch included the St. John's metropolitan area, the Burin Peninsula and extends to Newfoundland's northeast coast, Environment Canada said.
Communities on Newfoundland's south coast were bearing the early brunt of Igor. In St. Lawrence, 152 millimetres of rain had fallen overnight to 5:30 a.m. Between 110 and 140 millimetres were still forecast to fall in the area, Environment Canada said.
Darryl Doyle, the fire chief in St. Lawrence, said many of the roads in the town were already impassable by 7 a.m.
"There's a foot, almost two feet of water on the roads there now," Doyle told CBC News.
In the tiny remote coastal community of Jacques Fontaine, residents quickly found themselves stranded by flooding.
"The water is right to my bridge," JoAnne Brushett said Tuesday morning as she and her neighbours waited for boats to take them to safer ground.
"I don't know what they're going to do. [With] that much water, you can't do much.… They're going to get the older person out first and then they're going to come and get [us]," she said.
Power outages were reported in St. Lawrence, Little St. Lawrence, Terrenceville, Gaultois and a neighbourhood of St. John's, where a tree struck a power line.
In the St. John's area, more than 100 millimetres of rain had fallen by lunchtime.
Highway and road conditions were treacherous long before the worst of the storm had hit. The Trans-Canada Highway near Adeytown, about 12 kilometres east of Clarenville, was covered with about 30 centimetres of water.
"The public is advised to approach with caution or find an alternate route," the RCMP said in a statement.
Pam Pardy Ghent, a resident of Harbour Mille, said her phone service was temporarily knocked out on Tuesday morning, but was restored. She said the storm had picked up considerable strength overnight. "I'm not the only one getting water," she said.