Storm in Atlantic Canada: damage is being assessed

BARRIE — A devastating rainstorm that rocked Atlantic Canada has left roads and flooding along the west coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Efforts are now underway in some areas to assess damage and reopen vital transportation routes, though officials say the storm could take weeks to clear up.

Here’s a closer look at what’s happening.


Residents and officials in Port Aux Basques, NL, are concerned about the supply shortage after torrential rains washed away vital transport routes.

The town’s mayor, Brian Button, told CTV’s Your Morning that four separate washouts have been reported along the Trans-Canada Highway.

He said provincial officials have not yet been able to reach the city to assess the damage because the weather “has not held up enough”.

“But from a conference call it looks like hopefully everyone will be on the ground this morning,” he said.

Button currently said the biggest concern is access to health care.

He said Port Aux Basques relies heavily on Corner Brook – a larger town in the area – for many medical services.

However, with roads washed away, Button said access to those services can be difficult.

“But we have been assured by officials that it is taken care of on that side and that we don’t have to worry there,” he said.

Button also said he was concerned that the city could face difficulties in obtaining other supplies, and urged residents not to stock up or hoard too much.

“Get what you need and hopefully we’ll make it here.”


In a tweet Thursday, Environment Canada said the city has had 165.1 millimeters of rain in the past two days.

“This sets a record for the most rainfall in a two-day period for the southwest coast city,” the tweet read.

Button said once assessments are complete and damage can be determined, officials will prepare a recovery and cleanup plan.

“Until that’s done, we really won’t know, and we’ll have no idea how to get all of this going now,” he said.


Meanwhile, preparations are also underway to temporarily resume the ferry Argentia – North Sydney.

In a press release issued Thursday morning, Marine Atlantic said resuming ferry service will help the province gain a maritime connection to carry both people and “critical supplies.”

“Following a request from the provincial government, Marine Atlantic has implemented its emergency plan to temporarily resume Argentia ferry service,” the report reads.

The company said the first sailing schedule between Northern Sydney, NS and Argentia, NL, will depart Thursday at 5 p.m. Atlantic time.


Meanwhile, heavy rainfall in Nova Scotia caused damage and flooding in Victoria, Antigonish and Inverness counties.

Jason Mew, director of incident management at Nova Scotia’s emergency management office, told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday that crews are working to assess damage to “several dozen roads” and at least five bridges.

He said they will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

Mew said provincial officials are also liaising with municipalities to determine what support is needed and where.

“At this point, the provincial coordination center has been activated,” he explains. “We do that at the provincial level, we coordinate the total government response to these kinds of calamities.”

According to Mew, “a few people” have been evacuated from their homes.

“They are currently being looked after,” he said.

Mew said their homes are being assessed by crews and insurance companies to determine when it is safe for them to return.

The province is also working with Environment Canada, Mew said, as they wait for the water level to drop so they can make sure the work is done safely.

“We’ve had a lot of rain, up to 280 millimeters in places,” he said. “So public works and a lot of different departments trying to assess some of this damage, it’s just to be able to get in there and do that inspection safely without endangering some of the workers doing that work.”

Mew said his biggest concern right now is reopening roads.

“A lot of the roads that have been washed away, we have a different way of getting around,” he said. “But it’s always nice to have the main roads open as soon as possible in case someone needs to get somewhere quickly.”

The nationwide state of emergency in Victoria was lifted on Wednesday afternoon, but officials said residents should only travel if necessary.

A boiling advisory was also issued for Neil’s Harbour, and officials said emergency maintenance work would be carried out on the waterworks to repair storm damage to the system.


At a news conference Thursday morning, Nova Scotia Prime Minister Tim Houston said the storm damage in the province is “significant”.

“It’s probably at least $7 million,” he said. “So we will activate federal programming [and] we will do what we can to help people get back to normal.”

Houston said there have been “some improvements” in the cleanup effort, even in the past day.

“But there is a lot of work to be done to rebuild, repair and restore. Some of it is provincial responsibility, some of it is federal,” he said.

Houston said Canadian Secretary of National Defense Anita Anand approached him “immediately” for help.

“We don’t think that’s necessary now,” he said. “But I’ll tell you the lines of communication are open [and] we will start the federal programs and we will do whatever it takes to support the Nova Scotians who need it.”


In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his support for Atlantic Canada.

“I know this isn’t easy to go through and I know you’re concerned,” he wrote. “We’re behind you — and we’re ready to help you and your community. Please stay safe.”


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