Nfld. & Labrador

More than $1.5M repair bill for accidents, road washouts, states of emergency

Parks Canada says the Trans-Canada Highway within Terra Nova National Park will stay closed Tuesday night — anticipating it will re-open by mid-day tomorrow.

Premier Dwight Ball says help may have to come from Ottawa

Newfoundland was rocked by rain and flooding Monday night. Tuesday saw traffic accidents, rescues and a good look at the damage, which Premier Dwight Ball estimated could measure more than $1.5 million. 1:32

The cost of repairing damage done by Hurricane Matthew as it moved across southern and central Newfoundland could total more than $1.5 million, triggering a federal response, says Premier Dwight Ball.

Ball said Tuesday afternoon that the province has enough staff to reconnect communities cut off by road washouts, but he expects to get help from Ottawa.

Late Tuesday, Liberal MP Scott Simms confirmed the federal government is ready to help the province recover.

The premier, who spent the day in St. John's at a series of consultations about the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, said he will tour the damaged areas this week.

Parks Canada says the Trans-Canada Highway within Terra Nova National Park will stay closed Tuesday night — anticipating it will re-open by mid-day tomorrow — as crews repair a washout near the east entrance. 

Drivers are being asked to stay outside the park and to stay off the T'Railway system, which many are using as an alternative route. 

The park washout is one of several reported after intense rainfall and heavy winds wreaked havoc from Benoit's Cove to Burgeo and large areas of Notre Dame Bay. Burgeo Mayor Barbara Barter said the highway there will be closed until at least Friday, as there are three collapsed culverts and two other washed-out sections.

According to police, there have been at least two motor vehicle accidents involving washout on the Buchans Highway.

RCMP Cpl. Duncan Osmond confirmed there have been injuries, and said the situation is unfolding.

He said washouts cut off access to both accidents, and a helicopter is being used to transport the injured to awaiting ground ambulances.

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      DRL Coachlines said it's cancelling its daily cross-province bus run for the day.

      The Department of Transportation and Works says many provincial highways have been closed due to flooding. (CBC)

      Minister of Transportation and Works Al Hawkins said the provincial government is deploying the necessary resources to assess the damage.

      "We're very concerned about the amount of damage that's been done. We realize that there are communities that are cut off, really, because the highways have been damaged."

      This map shows just some of the washouts reported Tuesday following Monday's heavy rainfall. (CBC)

      Hawkins said the priority is to get communities connected again.

      "When communities are cut off then there can be very serious emergencies when it comes to healthcare or drinking water or whatever the case may be," Hawkins said.

      Towns respond to emergency

      On the south coast, St. Alban's mayor Jamie Leroux said the rain tapered off Tuesday morning, but the town's emergency plan is still in effect. 

      Leroux said local roads are in hard shape with the flooding, resulting in outside access to the community being cut off.

      The community of Little Burnt Bay near Lewisporte is in a similar situation. 

      "It's unreal, we're completely cut off down here," said Mayor Laverne Suppa.  

      "Up behind us is all bog — it just can't handle any water up there. We're just afraid that the pavement can't handle the water."

      Suppa said water was even coming up through the floor of her shower Tuesday.

      Route 364, the road leading into Hermitage, which also provides access to Sandyville and Seal Cove, is also impassable.

      Mayor Steve Crewe said it's going to be a week to 10 days before his town is reconnected, and he's warning residents to be prepared to go without fresh groceries and other amenities.

      "It's quite devastating here," he said. 

      "Hopefully it'll be fixed before that, but they've got a lot of work to do."

      This Twitter photo shows damage to the bridge in St. Alban's Tuesday. (Melissa Burke/Twitter)

      There is no cell service in the town and the only gas station has been asked to conserve fuel for emergency vehicles.

      Crewe said the road from Grand Falls to Route 364 is also impassable.

      "Be vigilant and stay where you're to and we'll try to get through this as quickly as possible, but we're not going to be able to get out of town for quite a while."

      In Conne River, the pavement is barely holding up in one section of the community, however residents are able to use a detour road to avoid the area.

      Though not in a state of emergency, all non-essential services have been cancelled in Conne River, Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi General Manager Theresa O'Keefe said in a release Tuesday afternoon.

      While no injuries have been reported, she said roads have been extensively damage and several houses have flooded.

      The pavement is barely holding in Conne River. Resident Kathlena Stride says people in the town are using a detour road. (Submitted by Kathlena Stride)

      Lewisporte Mayor Brian Sceviour told CBC News dozens of houses have flooded in his town. 

      Sceviour said he knew of at least 40 flooded homes when the town declared a state of emergency Monday night.

      "I've heard of cases where the house has just about the entire basement filled [with water]," he said of the town that's seen more than 143 mm of rain in 24 hours.  

      "Last night driving through town you could see manholes being lifted up right out of the road with the pressure of the water," Sceviour said.

      Sceviour said Lewisporte's biggest problem is its infrastructure not being built to withstand a lot of rain.

      "That's [infrastructure] something that could take years to fix overall," Sceviour said.

      Central Newfoundland

      The situation in the central Newfoundland town of Bishop's Fall is also tense.

      Frank Fancey, who lives on Main Street, is dealing with flooding in his home, which is situated near the falls.

      Fancey's septic system backed up around 9:30 p.m. Monday.

      "I've been here since 1995 and this is obviously the worst we've ever seen," Francey said.

      Francey said he managed to save some of his belongings, but lost furniture and appliances to the flood.

      "Pretty traumatic right now but we will carry on."

      Sections of the main road through the community are impassable because of washouts, some homes have been flooded and evacuated, and utility poles are starting to topple, said Mayor Bob Hobbs.

      "It's been a rough night," Hobbs said, adding that power has been disconnected to some areas.

      The town declared a state of emergency late Monday night.

      Hobbs said two sections of town have been hit hardest, and two small streams as now "raging" through neighbourhoods.

      The mayor said those evacuated are being accommodated at the town's Lions Club, and the Red Cross is also assisting.

      "It's dangerous. When life is threatened, you have to take action," said Hobbs.

      Bishop's Falls is situated along the bank of the Exploits River, and flooding is not uncommon in the town.

      Many say water levels in the river are at the highest they've been since the disastrous flood of 1983.

      Several communities and towns across Newfoundland are in recovery mode Tuesday morning after the trail of Hurricane Matthew brought intense rainfall amounts and heavy winds. 2:06

      West coast

      In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, the mayor of Corner Brook said town crews are keeping a close eye on brooks and streams as water running below the Main Street bridge "rose to within one-and-a-half feet" below the structure.

      Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender says crews kept a close eye on rising brooks and streams overnight. (Charles Pender/Facebook)

      Charles Pender said all storm sewers, brooks, head walks and other infrastructure "performed well with no damage being reported."

      Pender advised all residents with storm damage to contact the town's service line. 

      He said heavy rain on the west coast ended by 4 a.m., and the town sustained minimal damage. Three properties were flooded, he said, when a private storm system plugged on Petries Street. A town foreman was contacted and the flooding was stopped.  

      South coast

      Burgeo was hit with 160 mm, causing the south coast highway to shut down Monday following a washout. The mayor said it will be closed until at least Friday. 

      High water levels covered lawns in Harbour Breton, on Newfoundland's south coast, around 1 a.m. (Submitted by Katt Lambert)

      Firefighter Guy Hann had a close call on his way home from his cabin Monday afternoon.

      "There was water going over the road and when I came down to go across the water … it was deeper than I thought it was and the car I was driving, she just sort of floated," he said.

      "And lucky enough I made it over, or she went down and struck the pavement, and I got across."

      But closer to Burgeo, Hann said he crossed another road mere minutes before it washed out.

      "I said to my wife, 'We were more than lucky to get out, probably another five or 10 minutes behind [and] we would have been gone down the brook.'"

      Harbour Breton was also "hit quite hard," according to Mayor Roy Drake. 

      The town recorded a total of 127 mm of rain, had several washouts and a small landslide. Drake said the town had to move residents out of certain areas due to washouts. 

      Most forced to leave their homes stayed with relatives overnight, but Drake said some slept in the town's arena. 

      Harbour Breton's main intersection has one passable lane, Drake said, but the highway leading into the town is closed.

      While Harbour Breton has maintained cell and Internet and service, Drake said a major concern is the lack of an ambulance — it's stranded outside the town in Grand Falls-Windsor.

      Rainfall totals

      Meteorologist Rodney Barney reported the highest total of rain in Grand Falls-Windsor, which reached 180 mm. 

      Badger got upwards of 154 mm of rain, Millertown received 140 mm, Port aux Basques recorded 93 mm and Deer Lake had 68 mm.

      Get continuous storm updates from across the island through our live blog.