Appleton man built Gander River home with flooding in mind

Peter Parsons knew his house was on a flood path — and built there anyway. The Appleton man designed his basement with a rising river in mind.

Peter Parsons built his home on a flood path in 1986

Pete Parsons says he knows his residence was likely to flood, but says his home in Appleton is too beautiful to leave. 1:29

As the Gander River was rising between Glenwood and Appleton in central Newfoundland this week, some lucky residents were confident their homes would stay dry — thanks to preventative measures put in place after decades living on the river. 

Peter Parsons was one of those people. He owns a large log cabin in Appleton on the flood path of the Gander River. 

"Am I crazy? Maybe a little. But it is a beautiful area," said Parsons. "I built here knowing that this has and will happen."

Parsons built his home to limit possible damage in the event of a flood. He also regularly measures the river following heavy rain.

Peter Parsons keeps a close eye on the Gander River to make sure he's ready for any potential floods. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"I monitor it all the time based on where I live here. It was rising yesterday at three inches an hour," Parsons told CBC News Thursday.

"It's usually two or three days before it really peaks out — it peaked about 4 o'clock this morning."

According to data collected at an Environment Canada monitoring station north of Appleton, the river normally sits at about two metres but rose an additional three in the wake of the rainstorms. 

This chart shows the Gander River water levels during the week after the Thanksgiving Weekend storm. (Environment Canada)

"I've been here since 1986 so basically 30 years, and this is the second time it's come up like this," said Parsons, who said he's never filed an insurance claim for flood damage. 

"Where I see it coming and I expect it all the time, my basement is not developed and I move everything off the floor."

All of his major appliances have been raised off the floor of the concrete basement using boards and pallets. Parsons also has two large flow pumps that help remove whatever water does make it inside his home.

Peter Parsons placed all of his appliances on pellets to keep them safe from any potential flooding that could occur near his home on the Gander River. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

And despite annual floods, he said he has no plans to move.

"I'm not a big city guy. I'd sooner be treading water than be living in the city," he said.

"You come by in a month's time and have a look at the property and you'll say, 'Why not?'"

About the Author

Chris Ensing

CBC News

Chris Ensing is a Video Journalist for CBC Windsor.