As It Happens

'There's nothing we can do,' says N.L. couple whose flooded cabin floated away

Una Hoyles says her cabin has floated one kilometre away to the the other side of Bottomless Pond in Western Newfoundland.

The water began rising in Bottomless Pond a year ago — and it hasn't stopped

Una and Melvin Hoyles of Cormack had hoped to turn their cabin into a B&B — but then it floated away. (Colleen Connors /CBC )
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Transcript

Last spring, the water level in Bottomless Pond in western Newfoundland rose so high it began to flood the cabins along its shores.

It didn't stop. And now, things have gone one step further — the cabins are floating away.

Una Hoyles, who owns one of those cabins north of Deer Lake with her husband Melvin, spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off from Cormack, N.L.

Here is part of their conversation.

What does it mean that your cabin is floating away?

It means the end, if that is explaining enough.

Everything was in place for a B&B at our cabin, because we were going to move there for a few years to get a bit of money for retirement and stuff.

Our cabin has floated off its shores and gone across to the other side of the pond, which is about a kilometre.

There's five cabins around the pond. And all five of them have left their moorings, their shores.

Aerial view of cabins belonging to Una Hyles and her brother-in-law that have floated off their foundation and across the water on Bottomless Pond in western Newfoundland. (Submitted by Mark Hoyles)

Good heavens. How big are these cabins?

My cabin is 1,157 square feet.

We have it designed to sleep 11 people. Two bathrooms. We got a full basement.

And there's not just our cabin at this point. We've got a 22-foot travel trailer. We have not had any idea since last year where it is. We think it came off the spot where it was on the slope somewhere, and probably gone down on the bottom somewhere else. We've got a 27-foot motor home that has an air pocket in the back somewhere. So it's going around somewhere with its bum up — floating, bobbing.

 

Now how much higher is the water from where it was originally?

In the centre of the pond, going straight up — I don't know if anybody has measured it yet — we're estimating about 60 feet.

There is a school bus across from our cabin, across the pond — which is probably close to a kilometre — and that school bus, one of the young fellows went in about two months ago and drilled a hole and put a hoop down with a magnet, and said it was 42 feet then. Now that water has risen I would say a good 20 to 25 feet since then. 

Rooftop of a floating cabin seen on Bottomless Pond. (Submitted by Mark Hoyles)

Do you have any idea why the water is so high?

Just speculation. The pond is called Bottomless Pond. It is called that for a reason. There is no runoff from the pond — there's no brook leaving the pond. There's a hole.

In the summer when the pond is at its all-time low, you can see underwater the hole that is there. It's about six feet or so in diameter. 

And we are in a — I call it a bowl, because there's mountains all the way around, and hills all the way around. 

It's not draining. But on the hill beyond our cabin, there was forestation going on. And in Newfoundland — I don't know if they do it anywhere else in Canada — but they do a thing called clear-cut, where they go in, they take so many hectares of land and they totally do a clear-cut. There's not one thing standing. Nothing. It's total. Oh, it's like a badland you watch on the movies.

And so the first trip that we made in months, we found that the water was rising. There was one spot where there was a hole blowed out through the side of the hill. And the water was just gushing. And that hole is about 10 feet long and probably about six or eight feet high.

And so we're we're figuring the sedimentation that came with that went down and plugged the hole.

What are you going to do?

I really don't know. There's nothing we can do. 

When we called the insurance company, once we realized that what was happening, the insurance company told us that this is an act of God. It's overland flooding. And insurance doesn't cover overland flooding.

So I don't know. My response to that was I don't think this is an act of God, because I don't think God is that childish.

Interview produced by Sarah Jackson. Q&A edited for length and clarity.

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