Jasmine Hayes’ life was strewn about her mother’s kitchen and living room Monday.
Torrential rain and snow melt from Sunday’s storm caused her basement apartment in the Mundy Pond Road home she shares with her mom and family to flood, destroying nearly everything she owned.
“There was nothing we could do but watch the water come in,” said Hayes, a self-employed esthetician and mother of a young daughter.
What could be saved was piled high in her mom’s second-floor home, including boxes of baby toys, books and clothes, a handful of DVDs, a TV, a pet rabbit and goldfish. She lost thousands of dollars’ worth of possessions — and she wasn’t the only one.
The Northeast Avalon was pounded Sunday and into Monday with more than 65 mm of rain and lots of melting snow, causing basements to flood, potholes to be gouged out of streets and roadsides to wash away.
“Busy weekend for our crews responding to the storm,” said Paul Mackey, director of public works for the City of St. John’s.
According to Mackey, the city received 238 calls for service between Saturday at midnight and Sunday at midnight and had received about 20 more Monday morning. The department usually gets between 30 and 40 calls on a weekend.
For most of Sunday, the calls were from people reporting clogged storm drains, but as the day progressed and the rain and snow melt intensified, the city started getting reports of more and more basements flooding.
The city’s infrastructure performed relatively well, said Mackey, though there were some problem areas.
“There were some areas where we had some overflows and that kind of thing. Now we’ve got to do an analysis, an investigation, on those to see if they were just random blockages or capacity problems,” he said.
Hayes is convinced her flood was not caused by a random blockage.
Her family moved into their home about a decade ago, unaware their new house was prone to flooding. They’ve fought with the city before to help pay for the damages, but it’s always been in vain, said Hayes.
Her insurance also won’t help, she added, because the home has flooded more than once in a year.
The situation is maddening, she said.
“It’s very frustrating, and the worst part is you have nowhere else to go.”
Hayes blames a pipe under her back step for the flood. It connects to the storm sewer system and Sunday night it ruptured under the strain of water backing up from the swollen Mundy Pond. Water started pouring in from the door.
What’s also frustrating is that it took the city 13 hours to respond to her call for help, she added.
She estimated she’s spent more than $20,000 repairing the basement in the past. But this storm was the last straw for her. She’s now thinking of uprooting her daughter and moving to Alberta where her boyfriend is working.
But not everyone had an experience like Hayes.
June Perry lives on Pine Bud Avenue and had nothing but good things to say about the city crews who came to her family’s rescue.
Her basement also flooded Sunday night, but she got help about three hours after calling 311.
“We were the three of us, my 18-year-old son, my husband and I, were scooping it up with shovels and buckets but we couldn’t keep up with the water. As you can imagine, in storage area of your basement there was everything from Christmas decorations to art. So the damage would have been quit significant if we had not have the intervention of the city to help us diagnose and solve the problem,” said Perry.
Richard Hickey heard a lot of stories on Monday, some like Hayes’, some like Perry’s.
Hickey owns and operates A & R Services Ltd. in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s. He was a busy man when The Telegram caught up with him; his cleanup crews had about 20 active files on the go as of Monday morning.
“We had a multitude of calls (Saturday) and probably a lot more today now that people are contacting their insurance companies,” said Hickey.
His workers were answering calls from about 3 p.m. Sunday until 4 a.m. Monday, and were planning on getting back to work as soon as possible.
This was the type of situation that only comes around every few years, he said.
“It’s not something you’re going to get all the time. It’s one of them freak things. You’re not going to get it every year. It’s only when you get a quick rainfall behind a heavy snow,” he said.
Hickey also wanted to stress that homeowners, and renters, if they qualify should make sure they have as much flood insurance as possible. Floods can happen to anybody, he said, and they are devastating when they do.
It’s a sad situation when a person loses everything to a flood, he concluded, and it’s something he has seen too often.