Excessive run-off from tropical storm Ophelia Monday morning forced a culvert loose on the Burin Peninsula Highway between St. Lawrence and Lawn. This is the same area washed away last year during hurricane Igor. — Photo by Cynthia Farrell/The Gazette
Though it seemingly came and went in short order, tropical storm Ophelia’s presence was felt, particularly on the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.
Echoing the events of last September when hurricane Igor wreaked havoc on Newfoundland, Monday’s storm closed roads, flooded homes, and left the provincial government with new infrastructure issues to address.
In the tiny south coast community of Belleoram, five homes had to be evacuated as water leaked inside. A nearby road was also washed out.
Mayor Steward May was among those forced to leave his home. His town declared a state of emergency for a portion of the day.
“We’ve got an excavator in just to divert anymore water in case of another storm coming this way,” he said. Employees from the Department of Municipal Affairs were due to arrive later in the day to assess the damage.
Route 230 on the Bonavista Peninsula was closed at 11 a.m. near Melrose due to flooding, but it reopened by mid-afternoon.
Opposition says government failed to learn from Igor … Continued from page A1
A local road in Trouty sustained damaged and was deemed impassable, as was Davis Cove Road, a fisheries access road on the Burin Peninsula.
Route 239 leading to Trinity remained closed at Lockston due to flooding and debris on the road as of The Telegram’s Monday deadline.
Other roads that were closed on the Burin Peninsula at some point during the day, including Route 220 between St. Lawrence and Lawn and Route 210 near Red Harbour Hill, were later reopened.
Basement floods were reported in Port Union and Bonavista, though St. Lawrence Mayor Wayde Rowsell said flooding is an issue in his community whenever heavy rainfall occurs.
“There’s always flooding in one area of the community any amount of rain ... but that’s sort of routine here.”
According to Environment Canada, Bonavista had the most rainfall from Ophelia, with 62 millimetres recorded and peak wind gusts of 80 kp/h, while St. Lawrence experienced 58 millimetres of rain.
At St. John’s International Airport, 27 millimetres of rain was recorded.
Assess the damage
Minister of Municipal Affairs Kevin O’Brien said government employees will assess the damage.
“As I’m understanding, there hasn’t been a whole lot of damage to the roads, and mostly they were closed for precautionary reasons,” he said.
He said government began tracking the storm from the moment it formed in the Caribbean Sea.
“We’re very pleased that the predictions came true and it was a tropical storm and not a hurricane.”
O’Brien said most of the damage caused by hurricane Igor has been addressed, though he said there remains some areas that have not “been brought to standard” as of now.
In a news release Monday afternoon, Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward claimed the governing Progressive Conservatives had failed to learn lessons from Igor, as proven by its response to Ophelia.
“Damage to new highway infrastructure today on both the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas has proven that repairs since Igor have been inadequate,” said Aylward.
Told about Aylward’s claim infrastructure never held up, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said, “I don’t know where he’s getting his information from. I can only rely on what’s being provided to me by the municipalities themselves, Fire and Emergency Services and the Department of Municipal Affairs.
“What can I say about Mr. Aylward and the Liberals? They have a lot to say, but not much substance to it these days.”
From what she’s been told, aside from some damage to asphalt, passing lanes, and road shoulders, she said most infrastructure across eastern Newfoundland stood up.
Meanwhile, another storm is expected to hit the province Wednesday and Thursday, bringing more heavy rainfall and strong winds with it.
Herb Thoms, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the system is not a tropical one. As of Monday, he said the western portion of the province had the strongest probability of experiencing heavy rain and strong winds.
O’Brien said his department will do road repairs as quickly as possible and hope weather conditions Wednesday and Thursday cause no further damage.