Atlantic Canada storm: Damage being assessed

A devastating rain storm that rocked Atlantic Canada has left washed out roads and flooding along the western coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

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

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


Residents and officials in Port Aux Basques, N.L., are concerned about supply shortages after the heavy rain washed out vital transportation routes.

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

He said provincial officials have not yet been able to make it out to the town to assess the damage because the weather “hasn’t let up enough.”

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

Button said currently, the biggest concern is accessing health care.

He said Port Aux Basques relies heavily on Corner Brook – a larger city in the area — for a lot of medical services.

However, with roads washed out, Button said accessing those services could be difficult.

“But, we’ve been assured by officials things are being looked after on that end, and we shouldn’t have to worry about things there,” he said.

Button said he is also concerned the town could experience issues getting other supplies too, and has urged residents not to overstock or hoard items.

“Get what you need and we’ll hopefully get by here.”


In a tweet Thursday, Environment Canada said the town received 165.1 millimetres of rain over the past two days.

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

Button said once evaluations are complete and the damage can be assessed, officials will devise a recovery and clean-up plan.

“Until that’s done, we really won’t know, and won’t have an idea on how we’re actually going to put all this into motion right now,” he said.


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

In a press release issued Thursday morning, Marine Atlantic said resuming the ferry service will help provide the province with a marine link to transport both people and “critical supplies.”

“Following a request from the Provincial Government, Marine Atlantic has implemented its contingency plan to temporarily resume the Argentia ferry service,” the notice reads.

The company said the first sailing schedule between North Sydney, N.S. and Argentia, N.L., is scheduled to depart at 5 p.m. Atlantic Time on Thursday.


Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, the heavy rain caused damage and washouts in Victoria, Antigonish and Inverness counties.

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

He said they will be reopened as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so.

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

“Right now the provincial co-ordination centre is activated,” he explained. “That’s what we do at the provincial level, we co-ordinate the overall whole of government response for these types of emergencies.”

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

“Presently they’re being taken care of,” he said.

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

The province is also working with Environment Canada, Mew said, as they wait for water levels to drop so they can ensure work is done in a safe manner.

“We received a lot of rain, in some places up to 280 millimetres,” he said. “So public works and a lot of different departments that are 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 employees that do that work.”

Mew said his biggest concern right now is reopening roadways.

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

A county-wide state of emergency in Victoria was lifted on Wednesday afternoon, but officials said residents should only travel if necessary.

A boil water advisory was also issued for Neil’s Harbour, and officials said emergency water utility maintenance work would be done to repair storm damage on the system.


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

“I know this isn’t easy to go through and I know you’re worried,” he wrote. “We’ve got your back – and we’re standing by to provide any assistance you and your community may need. Please, stay safe.” 

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