The rain warnings that cover much of southwestern Newfoundland are finally over, with a massive storm that left record-breaking rain totals and damage.
A little more than 165 millimeters of rain has fallen in the city of Channel-Port aux Basques since Tuesday, setting records for the highest 24-hour rainfall and the highest 2-day rainfall, according to Environment Canada’s meteorologist Rodney Barney.
The northern Codroy Valley was soaked with even higher amounts of precipitation: 195.6 mm.
Meanwhile, a helicopter rescued two people from an area near South Branch known to locals as Over Falls Wednesday. An RCMP spokesman said the two were campers who were stranded after the water level rose. Police said they called for help shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
Barachois Ground Search and Rescue and Joint Rescue Coordination Centers (JRCC) were used to find the duo and their dog, but the RCMP says rescuers could not find them due to the weather and street washing. Police say a Cougar helicopter rescued them just before 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Washouts and road closures have littered the Trans-Canada Highway and the roads from Port aux Basques north through the Codroy Valley.
With a damp, rainy day ahead of us with light winds, Barney said, the rain warning for the area is over and conditions are becoming more favorable for the storm-hit communities to clean up.
The storm also separated the Port aux Basques area from the rest of the island due to road washouts, preventing some who live in remote areas but work in the community from getting home. For security reasons, some diversions have been set up within the community.
View | NL investigates storm damage when the rain subsides:
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Furey said that around 5,000 people were isolated from the rest of the island because of the storm. The province had prepared helicopter services for emergency situations without a timetable for road repairs.
Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said things would calm down in his community Thursday morning, and most of the damage and major concerns have been on the Trans-Canada Highway that connects the city – and ferry supply chains – with the Rest of the island connects.
“We’re just cut off. We have four big washouts out there so we’re concerned now, ”Button told CBC Radio’s Newfoundland morning on Thursday.
“The weather did not allow officers to be there and see and determine what needs to be done there. With the heavy rains we had and the water still running, it wasn’t safe to actually do this and they weren’t able to get the crews there. ”
Button said he has been in contact with the provincial Department of Transportation every three or four hours since the first storm. He said crews should be able to assess the washout by daybreak and hopes there will be a better indication of the damage done later Thursday.
He said contingency plans are in place and the situation in his city is “well under control”. He asks the residents to be economical when shopping and only take the bare essentials with them.
“We’re going to have some supply problems,” he said.
Transportation Secretary Elvis Loveless said road repairs could take a week as he knew there was significant damage across the region. The minister flew into Deer Lake on the west coast of the island to get a better briefing on the situation. He said contractors will be on site Thursday.
“As soon as you arrive at the locations and start working, there may be strangers that we are not aware of,” he said on Thursday morning.
“But at the moment there is certainly a window of one week to get operations back and the roads open again. Definitely a week. “
Ferries to Argentina
The Marine Atlantic ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia is still affected on Thursday. The 11:45 am trip to and from North Sydney, NS has been canceled for the morning, but the company is adjusting to the situation.
According to a press release from Marine Atlantic on Thursday, the company implemented its contingency plan to temporarily resume ferry service from Argentia – on the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula – at the request of the provincial government.
The first voyage between North Sydney and Argentia is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. NT. The company said that customers will be contacted with reservations with additional information once the preparations are complete.
The Argentia Terminal is a seasonal service that usually runs between June and September. According to Marine Atlantic, employees are working diligently to prepare the terminal to accept customers in this emergency.
As for the health services at Port aux Basques, Western Health said that on Thursday at the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Center only offers dialysis, cancer care, and emergency services due to road conditions. All other personal appointments at the hospital and at MP Place – such as x-rays, blood draws, COVID-19 vaccinations, and mental health and addiction services – will be postponed.
The health authority said it will contact patients to confirm whether there are scheduled virtual appointments or home visits.