East Chezzetcook residents fed up with lack of fix to berm damaged in January

With another storm barrelling down on Nova Scotia, people who live on Big Lake in Lower East Chezzetcook say they are fed up with the lack of effort being put into making repairs to a breached berm that protects their lake from the ocean.

'We want a Band-Aid here before the whole thing gets destroyed,' says longtime resident

Longtime Lower East Chezzetcook residents Margie Wade, left, and Doug Bethune, right, say they're fed up with the lack of effort being put into making repairs to a breached berm that protects a local lake from the ocean. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

With another nor'easter barrelling down on Nova Scotia, people who live on Big Lake in Lower East Chezzetcook say they are fed up with the lack of effort being put into making repairs to a breached berm that protects the lake from the ocean.

"The only area of the beach that really needs to be reinforced is about 100 feet," said Doug Bethune, who moved to the area 46 years ago.

"Now that breach is about 200 feet and the aggregate needed to fix it is down at the end of the lake, and the government owns that property."

A powerful storm surge in early January ripped a hole in the stone berm, allowing the lake to fill with sea water. Some of the properties around the lake have since flooded. Another storm earlier this month packed several days of pounding storm surge and made the gap substantially larger.

A powerful storm surge in early January ripped a hole in the stone berm, allowing Big Lake to fill with sea water. Local residents said the lake is now filling with salt water with the rise and fall of each tide. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Local residents said the lake is now filling with salt water with the rise and fall of each tide.

"There's an area in the middle of the lake that is very low and the people who live there are at risk," said Margie Wade, another longtime resident. "The inlet now floods with the surge and the ocean comes in at the break and it makes for a very scary scenario."

Wade and Bethune are among a group of residents who said the breach in the berm should have been fixed when it was first discovered back in January. More than two months later, they say there is still no immediate plan to fix it.

"If you go into a hospital and you have a serious issue and you're bleeding, they'll put a Band-Aid on it. And that's what we want — we want a Band-Aid and you can do the surgery later," said Bethune. "We want a Band-Aid here before the whole thing gets destroyed."

Residents have had meetings recently with their local MLA, Kevin Murphy, and officials from the Department of Natural Resources.

"DNR hired consultants to investigate the potential for future breaches, impacts of long-term coastal change, property-flooding risks, as well as recommendations for future coastal damage mitigation," said Gordon Delano, the department's director for the central region.

"We don't want to endorse a plan of action that may seem satisfactory in the short term, but inadvertently harm the sensitive base of the dunes and make the situation worse."

A consultant's report will be made available to DNR soon, the department said, adding it's too early to speculate on when repairs will be made.

That's not the news local residents want to hear; they say they will be on pins and needles during high tides over the next couple of days, until the latest storm passes through.

"I explained to them back in January, before they started this study, what they needed to do to save the beach," said Wade. "But they didn't want to hear it."

About the Author

Paul Palmeter

Reporter

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.