Nfld. & Labrador

Storm washes away areas of Trans-Canada Highway in southwestern Newfoundland

Officials are reporting multiple roads are washed out because of heavy rain in southwestern Newfoundland, including in the Codroy Valley area near Doyles. Road access to Channel-Port aux Basques is cut off in both directions because of washouts south and north of the town.

Community of Port aux Basques cut off in both directions

A culvert between Doyles and South Branch in Newfoundland and Labrador is completely wiped out by a rainstorm that's been pounding the province overnight and into the morning, with more rain expected. (Submitted by Carl Bissonnette)

The town of Channel-Port aux Basques is cut off from the rest of Newfoundland in both directions as heavy rain continues to fall over the area due to a heavy storm that started Tuesday. 

The province said there are road washouts five kilometres north and two kilometres south of the community Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the province's Department of Transportation reported multiple roads are washed out in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles, which connect the region to the rest of the island.

The department reported the following road closures:

  • Trans-Canada Highway five kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, both lanes are washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 16 kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, one lane washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 25 kilometres northwest of Port aux Basques.
  • Route 406-11, Doyles Station Road, an alternate route is available.
  • Route 413-01, St. Andrews Road, an alternative route is available.
  • Loch Lomond Road, one lane is closed.
  • Upper Ferry Road, one lane is closed.

Environment Canada said Port aux Basques has received just under 150 millimetres of rain since Tuesday, while nearby Codroy is nearing 200 millimetres.

Roads are also closed in Red Bay in southern Labrador because of washouts. Tracey Road leading to Tracey Hill is closed until further notice, while areas of North Brook Road are damaged but open for the time being.

The town had received 50 millimetres of rain as of 7 a.m. AT, according to officials.

Wade Osmond has major flooding on his property which is situated near a brook in Port aux Basques. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

On Wednesday afternoon, Premier Andrew Furey said helicopters are on standby for emergencies, and so far there are no worries about supplies in the community.

The province is not considering evacuating any homes yet, but officials and police are asking people to stay off roads.

Wade Osmond, who lives in Port aux Basques, woke to discover major flooding on his property that's located near a brook which he says is ready to burst from the rainfall flowing steadily from a pond above.

"If that breaks, we're in trouble."

Osmond also found about 2.5 centimetres of water in his basement and said he's worried about the rain that's still to come.

WATCH | Wade Osmond experienced flooding on his property: 

'I was expecting the worst' N.L. man faces flooding following rainstorm

15 days ago
Duration 1:38
Wade Osmond of Channel-Port aux Basques speaks with the CBC's Peter Cowan about the flooding in his home during a nasty rainstorm. 1:38

'Fears have become reality'

The damaged roads are the biggest concern for Channel-Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button, who said workers continue to watch the town's storm sewers and check in on residents cut off from the rest of the province.

Button said he was fearful the roads would be washed out yesterday, and today "those fears have become reality. We have some major washouts now … which is cutting us off from the rest of the province."

"That becomes a big issue, especially when not all of these washouts have been assessed yet," he said. "So we don't know just how bad they are and how long it's gonna take to get things open."

Button noted the town has also spoken with emergency co-ordinators and said now isn't the right time to call a state of emergency in the community.

"We're looking at alternate plans on things that can be done, especially when it comes to emergency services. If we had called a state of emergency today … It wouldn't change how things are just because of the weather at this very moment," he said.

Channel Port-aux Basques Mayor Brian Button says damaged roads are a big concern for the town. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

More rain to come

Rodney Barney, a meteorologist with Environment Canada's weather officer in Gander, said the rain intensified early Wednesday morning, as meteorologists expect the system to bring 150 to 200 millimetres of rain to the area in total

"We're still looking at another 12 to 18 hours of rain," he said. 

"It looks like through the morning hours is probably when the heaviest part of the shower activity will be occurring for today, then gradually winding down as we go into the afternoon and evening."

Barney said another 50 to 80 millimetres of rain could fall, with as much as 150 millimetres over high-elevation areas. 

Osmond said it's hard to watch, but noted others in the area have it worse. 

"At 6 a.m. this morning I was here, sitting and watching the water rise, watching everything that I worked hard for go down the tubes, down the drain," he said.

"But it is what it is and we have to deal with it and take it as it comes."

Winds gusted in excess of 130 km/h in the Wreckhouse area, but diminished slightly Wednesday morning reaching about 90 km/h, Barney said. He said the wind is expected to pick up again later Wednesday morning.

The brunt of the rainfall is confined to the southwest corner of the island, meaning the Port aux Basques area and as far east as La Poile can anticipate the storm to continue to soak the communities.

In a news release, the RCMP said Department of Transportation crews were working in the Codroy Valley areas to assess the damage.

'All I could hear was pavement cracking'

Ryan Moore, who lives in Doyles, was driving along a stretch of road Tuesday night when the asphalt beneath his truck gave way. 

"I was kind of in shock. [The] airbags and everything went off and I jumped out," he said. 

Water levels have risen at the Red Rocks turnoff near Port aux Basques. (Troy Turner/CBC)

"I looked behind me and there was just a black hole behind me … all I could hear was pavement cracking, it was pitch black so I couldn't really see what was going on."

Moore said he had actually sold that truck earlier in the day. Now it's a total write off. 

He said he nearly made it across the culvert when it caved in, his front wheel breaking through and bouncing the truck back onto hard ground on the other side. 

"I've been driving that road my entire life and something didn't look right," he said. 

Moore is safe after using the phone from a nearby neighbour's house to call for a ride home. He said a tow truck should be able to remove his now abandoned vehicle from the road early Wednesday morning. 

Ferry crossings cancelled

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic ferry crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, N.S., are cancelled on Wednesday because of the storm, leaving some passengers stranded who are trying to get home.

Jason Caron had been in Newfoundland for the last week, working construction on Walmart stores on the island. With the work completed, he was headed for home, until the ferry cancellations deflated his plan. 

Now he's not sure when he'll get to leave. 

"We think maybe Tuesday will be possible, but we're still waiting on a response from Marine Atlantic," he said. 

According to Marine Atlantic's website, officials are prepared to temporarily reopen service from North Sydney to its other Newfoundland port in Argentia. A decision to reopen will be made in the next 24 hours.

Ryan Moore was driving his truck along a stretch of road near Doyles when the asphalt beneath him crumbled. The Department of Transportation is reporting multiple washed out roads in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles. (Submitted by Ryan Moore)

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