Nfld. & Labrador

3 months after Mud Lake flood, air force barracks starting to feel like home

About a dozen displaced families have been staying at 5 Wing Goose Bay Canadian Forces base since a flood evacuated the community and surrounding area.

Displaced resident Verna White says 5 Wing Goose Bay base 'a wonderful place'

Verna White lived in Mud Lake for 33 years. Now she resides at 5 Wing Goose Bay base. (Katie Breen/CBC)

There's a marked-up calendar on the wall of Verna White's apartment at 5 Wing Goose Bay base in Labrador.

She's been crossing off the days since a flood forced her out of her home in nearby Mud Lake and into army barracks with about a dozen other displaced families.

"That three months went fast in a way," White told CBC's Labrador Morning. "It's hard."

She was lifted out of the community in a helicopter basket.

People displaced by the flooding will have a home at these barracks on 5 Wing Goose Bay base for at least 30 days, after which the federal government says it will reassess the situation (Jacob Barker/CBC)

With adrenalin pumping, she said she wasn't scared at the time — It was like getting on a ferris wheel.

But it's not a carnival anymore.

"I wakes up every morning, 4 o'clock," she said.

"And I've come to realize, the body is remembering because that's when it started for me — 4 in the morning, we got the call."

Barracks feel like home

There are homey touches in White's apartment now — the calendar, for example.

Her crocheting is on the coffee table and a verse given to her by her daughter at Christmas is up on the wall.

Verna White has been marking the days off on a calendar since she was evacuated from Mud Lake. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The barracks feel like home to her now, she said, and she's grateful the Department of National Defence is allowing her and the others to stay.

"B'y, I must say, It's a wonderful place we got. Very comfortable. My dear, everything … All the modern conveniences," White said.

"I mean, we got the cable television and the internet, the same as what we'd have home … It's beautiful."

How long more?

Staying at the base has brought everyone affected closer together, physically and emotionally, White said.

But she's not sure how much longer they'll be neighbours.

An aerial photo shows flooding in one area of Mud Lake near Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Donald Edmunds)

5 Wing has cleared the group for another 30 days or so. Their stay is renewed on a month-by-month basis.

After that, White doesn't know where she'll wind up.

After 33 years as a Mud Lake resident, she doesn't plan on moving back.

"I couldn't do it, you know. I'm too frightened," she said.

"So that's that."


Katie Breen

Video producer

Katie Breen shoots and edits video for CBC in St. John's. She began working in news ten years ago as a reporter. Now she tells most stories from behind the camera. You can reach her at