Nfld. & Labrador

Heavy downpour overflowing riverbanks, flooding streets in St. John's area

Rainfall warnings remain in place for much of the Avalon Peninsula on Monday as a result of post-tropical storm Earl, as rivers overflow, causing flooding and blocking traffic in some areas of St. John's. 

About 200 mm of rain has already fallen, with more to come

Heavy rain flooding streets in St. John's

3 months ago
Duration 1:23
Around 200 millimetres of rain has fallen on St. John's today, leaving some streets flooded and vehicles stranded.

Rainfall warnings remain in place for much of the Avalon Peninsula on Monday as a result of post-tropical storm Earl, with overflowing rivers causing flooding and blocking traffic in some areas of St. John's. 

As of 5:30 a.m. Monday, roughly 175 millimetres of rain had fallen over the St. John's area since Saturday afternoon.

Some streets along the Waterford River are flooded, leaving cars stranded in the water. Traffic into downtown on Pitts Memorial Drive is being diverted into Kilbride due to water build-up on the road and there's a detour near the Railway Coastal Museum on Water Street. 

Waterford Bridge Road is heavily flooded due to rain caused by post-tropical storm Earl. (Mike Moore/CBC)

Environment Canada says an additional 10 to 30 millimetres is expected throughout the day, but larger totals are also possible. 

Around 11 a.m. David Neil, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the highest rainfall totals for the area had fallen in Paradise, where 207 millimetres have dropped since Saturday, and Pippy Park, which has seen just shy of 200 millimetres. St. John's west had 193 millimetres as of 8:30 a.m.

Vehicles are stalled on Waterford Bridge Road on Monday morning due to flooding from the nearby Waterford River. (Patrick Butler/CBC)

"We'll likely see that rainfall warning [continue] at least to later this morning and possibly through the rest of the day today," said Neil.

"A lot of the heavier amounts have really started to lighten up quite a bit. It's more of a mix of light rain and drizzle as it stands right now."

Neil said wet conditions are expected through Tuesday but the heavy pockets of rain should taper off later Monday.

Flooding problems

In Trepassey, on the Avalon's south coast, damage to the town's breakwater is causing concern for its residents. 

Mayor Rita Pennell said Hurricane Larry, which battered Newfoundland one year ago, caused severe damage to the same breakwater.

"We were just about ready to start to fix that when this happened Saturday night," she said. "It's devastating. We have a loader down there now clearing it off, trying to make an emergency opening because nobody can get down and nobody can get up."

Pennell said there are 25 homes and about 35 people stranded since Saturday because of the damage.

"If we have an emergency down there now we'd have to get a helicopter or a boat to get them up," she said. 

Engineers were headed to the area as of 12:30 p.m., Pennell said, adding she's hoping there will be enough room for local vehicles to squeeze through within the following hour. 

A breakwater near Trepassey was damaged by post-tropical storm Earl, stranding about 35 people since Saturday. (Submitted by Gerard Ryan)

Meanwhile, on top of closing some flooded roads, the City of St. John's is closing public parks. Bowring Park is closed until Tuesday morning, while all of the city's baseball and softball diamonds, soccer pitches and football fields will be closed for the remainder of the day.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Lynnann Winsor, St. John's deputy manager of public works, said parts of Southside Road, Water Street and other routes have been closed due to flooding, with an up-to-date list of closures on the city's website.

"This information is changing by the minute," she said.

She said some roads will reopen Monday afternoon but other areas could take longer.

As of Monday afternoon, Winsor said, trails next to rivers are also considered impassable. She said the Waterford Valley area and the city's west end seem to have received more rainfall than the east end.

However, she said water levels are beginning to recede, and city crews are assessing damage and cleaning up debris. She said the city hasn't yet determined the cost of the damage.

Winsor said the city prepares for storms as much as possible.

"We have a checklist, we go through it, we make sure we get as ready as we can be, and then we just wait and see what happens."

Keith King, owner of King's Plumbing, has a busy day on the books. 

King was busy helping a customer keep the water at bay from their basement on Portugal Cove Road near Rennie's River.

The Waterford River crashes over Symes Bridge after heavy rainfall over the last two days. (Mike Moore/CBC)

"It's unavoidable when the river is overflowing. You can't pump the river," he said. "She got about a foot of water in her basement."

King said he gets a call from that particular home every year when the river overflows. 

He said he had five or six more customers on his list after leaving Portugal Cove Road, all calling for help with flooding basements. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Maggie Gillis and The St. John's Morning Show

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