Heavy rains causing worry

Barbara Dean-Simmons
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Peninsula roads threatened again

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Heavy rain is once again causing problems along the Bonavista Peninsula and in the Clarenville area.

With 50 mm of rain falling overnight, and steady rain continuing to fall, water levels have risen in many ponds, and steams are filled with rushing water.

Several homes on Bayview Road in Clarenville are reporting flooding. That street is at sea level, but it’s not the water from the nearby Shoal Harbour River that’s flooded the area. It’s simply that the heavy rainfall has soaked the ground to the point of saturation, causing the water to build up.

In Brooklyn, Bonavista Bay, there are reports that a section of road is being eaten away by the rains.

People from that area who work in Clarenville have been advised by their employers to go home to ensure they can get home.

There are also reports that a bridge in English Harbour is being threatened by rising water, and a section of road near the Bloomfield bridge is taking a heavy beating.

The repairs made to the roads on Random Island following Hurricane Igor appear to be holding up, but there is localized flooding.

Random Island Academy shut down early again today – the school was closed on Monday and for part of Tuesday due to problems with its mechanical systems (its water system had malfunctioned) – because of concerns over worsening road conditions.

The school also had some leaks, one in the Grade 6 classroom and at another spot in the main corridor. Principal Rodney Boutcher said, however, it was the concern of bus drivers that caused them to close early. They were worried that if road conditions got worse, the busses might not get to some places.

Chris Hansford, one of the operators of the school buses on the island, said one of the problem spots was in Aspen Brook, where water had risen to the level of a temporary bridge. The driver was concerned about taking children over that bridge.

School was supposed to shut down at 1 p.m. for the Christmas holidays, but with the rain falling steadily, they decided to close at 10 a.m. to ensure everyone got home safely.

Hansford said there’s not a lot of heavy flooding in Hickman’s Harbour, certainly nowhere near the level of flooding seen during Igor. In the area of the community where houses lie abandoned following the Sept. 21 hurricane, Hansford said the water level in nearby Mill Pond has risen but just slightly.

“I drove in the Salvation Army cemetery road to check on the culverts there,” said Hansford, “and they’re not even half full of water.” During the September Hurricane, one of these massive culverts was washed away.

Yet the continuous rain has people on edge.

“Everybody is spooked here now; even though it (flooding) is nowhere near where it was during Igor,” said Chris Hansford.

Navin and Bev Lambert live at the entrance to Hickman’s Harbour, at the bottom of a hill where the valley begins.

Water from Long Pond drains into a stream that cuts down through the valley and runs right past their house.

During Igor, their driveway and chunks of their land, were washed away by the flood.

Today, they lost their driveway again.

Bev says neither of them slept much last night.

 “You’re up all night because you’re watching the water. It’s just a lot of stress.”

She says her husband Navin spent most of the night outside, watching the water and the driveway, and unable to do anything.

In the morning they decided to move her mother, Olive Vardy, out of the house.

Mrs. Vardy is not well. After Igor she had to be carried out of the house on a stretcher, across a makeshift bridge when the Lambert’s driveway washed out.

They didn’t want to have to go through that again, says Bev. Mrs. Vardy is now staying with another daughter in Shoal Harbour.

“I think we will have just as much rain as we had with Igor, but it’s just spread out over more days,” says Bev.

“I’m ready to move. We’ve been here for 28 or 29 years and I just can’t take this anymore,” she adds, her voice tired and strained after a night of worry.

“We have nights and nights here where we don’t sleep.”

“People are still spooked” after Igor, Chris Hansford agrees. “Everyone is worried.”

And that was evident in the voice of Sandy Wiseman, secretary at Random Island Academy, as the school was shutting down on Wednesday.

Wiseman’s parents, Max and Elsie George, lost their home in Hickman’s Harbour and many of their personal belongings during Igor.

With water leaking into the school, and building up on the school parking lot, it was quite obvious that thoughts of Hurricane Igor and her family were uppermost in Wiseman’s mind.

“I just don’t know, I just don’t know,” she said via telephone, the emotion and worry evident in her voice as the rain continued its steady fall.



Organizations: Random Island Academy, Salvation Army

Geographic location: Clarenville, Shoal Harbour River, Bonavista Peninsula Bayview Road Hickman Brooklyn Bonavista Bay English Harbour Random Island Aspen Brook Mill Pond Long Pond

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