© — Photo by Kevin Higgins/The Beacon
Crews clean out a culvert on the Trans-Canada Highway near Benton. The stretch of highway between Gambo and Gander was closed Saturday due to water buildup and later had one lane open only.
By Josh Pennell
Heavy rains over the weekend wreaked havoc in many homes throughout the town of Gander and shut down some highways.
The Gander Fire Department and the town received about 160 calls from residents with flooding, according to Gander Mayor Claude Elliott.
“There’s quite a bit of flooding. There’s quite a few calls went to our fire hall. Our public works crew are out. Our water and sewer people are out assessing the damage and helping out where the worst areas are,” Elliott told The Telegram early Saturday morning.
As of lunchtime the same day, the mayor reported that the weather was starting to clear, but crews were still cleaning out culverts and manholes.
According to an unofficial amount from Environment Canada, 125.6 mm of rain fell by 12 p.m. Saturday in Gander.
“That’s more than we had during (hurricane) Igor,” Elliott said. “One time there last evening I looked out my window and you would almost say it was snowing. It was right white. It was like drifting. It was terrible.”
Chris Brown, who lives on Reid Street in Gander, was heading down to his basement after midnight on Friday.
“I actually went downstairs to put a load of clothes in the dryer. … There was water overflowing from the drain.”
The drain was in the floor of his partially finished basement.
“The subfloor is ruined. The laminate flooring in that part is ruined. We also had a bedroom downstairs.”
Some drywall soaked through and his furnace was sitting in about 2 1/2 inches of water.
“Within 20 minutes it went from a puddle about four feet wide to almost a quarter of my basement,” said Brown.
He said he called the town just after 1:30 a.m. and was told that they were heading up to the sewage plant to open the gates and relieve some of the backed up pressure.
“When I woke up at 5:30 (Saturday) morning it was starting to go back down,” he said.
It is Brown’s first year in the house and was the first time he experienced flooding. He knows of other people who had completely finished basements that flooded, as well.
Brown didn’t waste any time calling his insurance company.
“I got right on the ball with that.”
He called them that night and they sent in a cleanup crew Monday. He is covered for water damage, although he isn’t yet sure how much the damages amount to.
Barry Vey, a tenant on Collishaw Crescent in Gander, came home just before midnight Friday night to a horror show.
“The extent of water that came into my apartment was nothing less than overwhelming,” he told The Telegram via email. “I arrived home at 11:45 p.m to the sound of a river flowing from the floor drain, through my porch and living room into the bedroom. Everything that was located below a foot and a half is completely ruined.”
His apartment was been deemed uninhabitable by a cleaning crew and Vey went to stay with his parents. He also said that as of Sunday, despite leaving a voice mail on the emergency line of his insurance broker, his call had yet to be returned.
Elliott said that no roads in the town had experienced washouts.
The Trans-Canada Highway and other highways in the area of central Newfoundland were a different story, however.
Early Saturday morning, the TCH between Gambo and Gander was deemed impassable due to water buildup. One lane was opened around 7 a.m., and later in the day both lanes were deemed passable. The TCH in the area was again reduced to one lane in the afternoon, though, as crews worked to clean out a culvert in the area of Benton.
Other highways and side roads in central Newfoundland were also affected by flooding, and the RCMP advised motorists to use extreme caution when travelling in the area until weather conditions improved.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, the Bay d’Espoir Highway was closed completely by the RCMP due to deteriorating road conditions and didn’t reopen until late in the afternoon.
Although Gambo has occasion ally experienced severe issues with flooding in the past, a spokesperson with the town said Saturday that the community came through the weather fine, with no problems being reported.