Nfld. & Labrador

'The road's got to be done': Larry pushes storm-ravaged town to the brink

Hurricane Larry wasn't the first time Route 92 in North Harbour was ruined by vicious weather. But once proper protections are finally put in place, residents hope it will be the last.

Town pummeled by past storms hopes battered road will get desperately needed protection

Barbara Tremblett hopes the destruction wrought by Hurricane Larry in her hometown of North Harbour, N.L., will prompt a more robust weather-proofing in the future. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

Hurricane Larry ravaged Route 92 Saturday, the main thoroughfare in North Harbour, a town of roughly 200 on Newfoundland's southwestern Avalon peninsula.

Larry's lashing winds and pounding surf clawed at the road's ocean-adjacent lane, reducing about a kilometre of it to rock and rubble. The lane remains closed to traffic while crews work to remove debris.

"I was stunned," said Barbara Tremblett, a North Harbour resident of 60 years, on seeing Larry's aftermath Saturday morning. "I couldn't believe it."

The last time Tremblett saw destruction as severe was when Hurricane Igor pulverized Route 92 in 2010. She hopes this time around, the road will finally get the weather-proofing it needs to protect against future storms.

Hurricane Larry ravaged Route 92, the only road serving North Harbour on Newfoundland's southwestern Avalon Peninsula. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

"I'm hoping when the roads are done this time, they're done better," Tremblett said as she surveyed the damaged coastline from the driveway of her oceanfront home. 

Were a robust rip rap system with guardrails installed, she said, she'd feel more at ease.

"It desperately needs to be done," she said. "I don't want to see destruction like this anymore."

'If she's coming, she's coming'

Allastair Broughall witnessed the fury of the storm from his home where he lives with his partner Sherri Lynn Power and their three boys. 

Though the sight was "pretty frightening" to watch, he was relieved the storm was short-lived.

Allistair Broughall, left, and his father-in-law Stephen Power of North Harbour, stand on Route 92, the town's only road. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

"If it was a longer hurricane, we wouldn't have had a road," he said. "It could have been a whole lot different."

Broughall said road crews acted swiftly Saturday to clear debris, and Newfoundland Power kept the town updated on developments. 

Larry downed a number of lines, and the town was still without power Sunday afternoon. 

Like other residents, Broughall worries what the future will bring for the community, especially those living in the low-lying section on the town's southern tip where a portion of the road was completely impassable.

"Knowing the ocean," he said, "if she's coming, she's coming."

Better safe than sorry

Stephen Power, 63, who has lived in North Harbour his whole life, said Larry brought "the hardest wind I ever heard."

"Igor never had no wind like this," he said. "Nothing like this."

Larry was the second significant weather event to strike North Harbour in a year. Torrential rain washed out part of Route 92 last September, leaving only the guardrail intact. 

Ferocious weather may be a fact of life in North Harbour, but Power has no plans to leave. 

"You're going to get more [storms] with global warming, so what can you do?" he said. "I don't see any difference in living here or anywhere else."

Like other residents, Power said the focus should be on preparation.

"The road's got to be done," he said. "That's one thing that's got to be done."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kyle Mooney is a journalist and musician living in St. John's.

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