Bailing out in Corner Brook

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Flooding brook sends water and snow down over city roads, causing damage along the way

Corner Brook resident Fred Wall was working around his 252 O’Connell Dr. home early Tuesday afternoon, taking boxes up and down from the basement so his wife, Geraldine, could pack up the Christmas decorations.

A plow clears snow and slush from Woodman’s Road in Corner Brook Tuesday. A Tributary of Bell’s Brook overflowed its banks and spilled onto the road and across O’Connell Drive, flooding some homes in the area.

Geraldine was out around 2 p.m., and Wall had just taken one box down to the basement and was going back upstairs for another. His task was interrupted by the phone ringing.

When Wall answered, a neighbour asked if he had any water in his basement.

“I said ‘no,’ and as I said no I heard the dribbling. I said, ‘It’s coming.’”

When Wall looked out the window on the side of his home, which borders Woodman’s Avenue, all he could see was water and slushy snow coming down.

The water was coming from the brook, a tributary of Bell’s Brook, that runs between Woodman’s Avenue and Rivervale Road.

As it got to the end of the road and spilled out towards O’Connell Drive, the force of the water pushed into Wall’s driveway on the Woodman’s Avenue side of his home. The water seeped in through his basement door, and snow and slush — deep enough to be up past a person’s knees — and settled in the driveway.

The water quickly rose in his basement and, by the time his wife returned, it was up over the second step in the stairway leading to the main floor.

While Wall waited for a sump pump, he started bailing the water out by hand and tried to pick up bottles and boxes that were floating. The couple figure a lot of the items they have stored in the basement are ruined.

They were also waiting for a repairman to determine if the furnace was still operable.

When the water started coming in, Wall called the city, but he and his wife don’t think enough was done to prevent the damage to their home.

He said while the city diverted the water back in the brook further up the road, water still flowed towards them.

By the time it was diverted near his home it was too late. They were also left wondering how long it would be before the slush that clogged their driveway would be removed.

Backing up

Shawn Street was outside his Rivervale Road home near the brook when the water came flooding.

“Something let go up on top up there,” he said, pointing to the area above Bayview Heights where the brook originates.

“It must have been backing up the brook up there somewhere, and when it let go it came down with too much force and just busted right through.”

Street said the brook narrows in the corner at the end of Woodman’s Avenue, and in that shallow spot the brook overflowed onto the road.

He has lived in the area for 16 years, and it’s the first time he’s seen anything like it, he said.

“It’s just so much snow early.”

Solution needed

But Mel Woodman, who lives on Woodman’s Avenue, and Wall have both seen it before.

“They’re going to have to build up that road there and do something,” said Woodman as he watched the water flowing over the street.

Down on Mount Batten Road, Ernie Wheeler also said something needs to be done. The water from Woodman’s Avenue flowed over O’Connell Drive and down Mount Batten Road.

With the road sloping towards the brook side of the street, the flow went down through a couple of yards, including Wheeler’s, and into Bell’s Brook.

Wheeler and his wife have lived in the home, which once belonged to his parents, since 1997.

He was eating lunch when he heard a roar and saw a neighbour come running.

When he looked, the water was flowing down over the path leading from the road to his house.

Wheeler said he immediately called the city to ask for sand bags and some help, but was told about what had happened just above him.

“Never seen anybody,” he said when asked if anyone responded to his call.

Wheeler has had water down over his property before during heavy rainfalls, and blames it on the low curb and slope of the road.

Earlier in the day, Wheeler had spent some time clearing catch basins on the street around his home in order to prevent flooding.

“If I didn’t keep it all clean down there it would have been all in,” Wheeler said of the area at the back of his home around his basement door. The water came just to the basement door, and Wheeler said he was lucky it didn’t flow into the house.

He’s said he is also lucky the water didn’t wash away his oil tank, which sits at the back of the house in the path the water took.

He’s concerned the same thing will happen again and plans to ask the city to do something about it.

“They got to put a higher curb or level out the road.”

Meanwhile, Steve May, the city’s director of operational services, said the city is investigating to determine what had happened to cause the flooding of the brook.

“There is a fairly narrow section there of the brook between Rivervale and Woodman’s, but there’s so much snow in the area now it’s hard to say exactly what happened there.”

But he said it’s certainly no surprise that an area like that could block up.

After the initial mess was cleaned up, May said the city sent in an excavator to ensure the water was flowing as it should.

He called the damage caused by the flooding “unfortunate,” and said the city will monitor the situation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The Western Star

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Rivervale Road, Bayview Heights Batten Road Western Star

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