Nfld. & Labrador

Bell Island ferry service to resume Saturday afternoon

After days without a working ferry to transport residents to and from Bell Island, ferry service is expected to resume on Saturday afternoon.

Wabana mayor says island was 'hour away from declaring state of emergency'

The MV Beaumont Hamel, pictured here leaving St. John's harbour, is expected to resume ferry service to Bell Island on Saturday morning. (Virginia Halley/Submitted)

After days without a working ferry to transport residents to and from Bell Island, ferry service is expected to resume on Saturday afternoon.

The Department of Transportation and Works said they have sent the MV Beaumont Hamel from St. John's harbour to transport people between Bell Island and Portugal Cove.

The vessel left the harbour Saturday morning and was expected to begin transporting passengers to Bell Island at 12:30 p.m.

Emergency helicopter service had been up and running previously, transporting residents. 

The MV Flanders, Bell Island's other ferry, ran into issues earlier this week following a small fire.

Officials said the ferry is currently at Long Pond, where engineers are still attempting to rectify the problem.

Hour away from state of emergency

Meanwhile, Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine told CBC that the town was an hour away from declaring a state of emergency.

Gosine said trucks were on standby, waiting to bring much-needed food and fuel to the island.

"All the stores are down to the bare essentials. Our bakery's out of bread, stores are out of bread, milk, eggs, the bare vegetable necessities — all that is out," said Gosine.

According to Gosine, it took 24 hours for a helicopter to become operational after it was requested.

"The biggest problem with all this is one big thing that costs nothing to fix: lack of communication." 

Medical emergency Friday night 

On Friday night, Gosine said one member of the town faced a medical emergency. 

"We had a medical emergency last night. The guy made calls at roughly around 1 o'clock, that search and rescue had to go to Gander."

JTF Atlantic said a Cormorant was dispatched to help the individual, and he was transported to St. John's. 

If the ferry had been running, the person would have been taken to Portugal Cove on the ferry, and then transported to St. John's via ambulance. 

Family members waiting for a deceased man's body to get off the island also spent time in limbo, said Gosine.

"I think he was here for close to three days in our morgue before we were able to transport him off Bell Island."

Gosine said he hopes to meet with government officials to ensure that in the future, communication between Bell Island and the provincial government is improved, and a better contingency plan for emergencies is put in place. 

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