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Corner Brook man takes to street with a shovel and scoop to divert water from his home


Gordon Wells was feeling a little more at ease on Monday afternoon, but that wasn’t the case earlier in the morning as he worked to push snow into the road above his Corner Brook home in an effort to divert water flooding towards it.

Wells lives on Water Street and his house is at the bottom of a steep lane.

It started raining at around 3 a.m. and Wells knew then that he had to go on water watch. 

Jerry Kennedy of Buddy’s Services hooks up a water pump in an effort to clear out the freight area of the Canada Bread Company outlet on Union Street in Corner Brook on Monday. The area was flooded after water poured down from Elizabeth Street.
Jerry Kennedy of Buddy’s Services hooks up a water pump in an effort to clear out the freight area of the Canada Bread Company outlet on Union Street in Corner Brook on Monday. The area was flooded after water poured down from Elizabeth Street.

By 8 a.m. he saw water coming down the lane. With some of it flowing into his basement he set about diverting it out towards Griffin Driver.

The issue was blocked culverts above him on Petley Street and Wells was certain that if the water broke through there’d be no stopping it.

“We’ve got the same problem here every year and they knows it,” he said of the city. “Every time it rains I wait for the city to come.”

Back in 2003 the flooding was so bad his mother got trapped in the house and had to be rescued.

While using a shovel and a scoop to push the snow around where Petley Street and Water Street meet, he said he made calls to the city at 9:11 a.m. and again at 9:44 a.m. to ask for help.

He used the snow he was piling up to divert the water out over St. Aiden’s Road in an effort to direct it to some open drains.

By the early afternoon, the city had responded to his calls and sent some equipment down to clear out culverts on upper and lower Petley Street to get the water into the storm system.

Donald Burden, the city’s director of public works, water and wastewater, confirmed the area has been a problem one in the past.

“But it didn’t give us any problems in the last storm.”

He said this time the city was focusing on those problem areas from January 2018, so it didn’t have the ditches completely cleaned out.

He said the work that was done should result in the water flowing into the ditches and not into the road.

After spending the morning watching the situation Wells was glad to see that happening.

When the crews took a break just after 2 p.m. so did wells, but he said he’d be going back out.

“I’ve got to go back up there in another 15 or 20 minutes just to make sure.”

Hardest hit

Water Street was just one of four areas in the city that was affected by the rain and flooding.

The area around the city depot on Charles Street was hit by extensive flooding on Monday. Unlike last January’s flooding, no water entered the building, with the road and entrance to the parking lot bearing the brunt of the flowing water.
The area around the city depot on Charles Street was hit by extensive flooding on Monday. Unlike last January’s flooding, no water entered the building, with the road and entrance to the parking lot bearing the brunt of the flowing water.

And just like last year, the hardest hit area was around the city depot on Charles Street and Elizabeth Street.

Mayor Jim Parsons said the roads around the depot were dug out quite a bit and there was a lot of washout down on Elizabeth Street.

He said the area was already in a compromised position after last year’s flooding and some of the fixes done then were affected.

“Some of those were very much temporary fixes and they probably wouldn’t stand up as much as a permanent fix anyway.”

Parsons said a lot of the work from last year was still left to be done as the money for the repairs didn’t come in until late this past fall.

Because of that Parsons didn’t think today’s damage would set the city back too much as the city will be able to fix it again in the spring with the same pot of money.

Parsons said the depot is an old building and the area around it has not seen any improvements.

But he didn’t think the situation at the depot, which didn’t get any water inside, would impact its response to other situations.

“Anytime that you have to deal with a new problem it just stretches your resources. In terms of responding to an emergency situation I think we’re OK.”

Road closed

Water flowing down over Elizabeth Street in Corner Brook pushed gravel and debris out over Union Street on Monday morning. The piles of gravel at the intersection were put there by the city and used to fill in areas washed out along the side of the road.
Water flowing down over Elizabeth Street in Corner Brook pushed gravel and debris out over Union Street on Monday morning. The piles of gravel at the intersection were put there by the city and used to fill in areas washed out along the side of the road.>

Up on Walbourne’s Road the culvert that crosses under O’Connell Drive between the upper and lower sections of the road became plugged with ice and snow.

Burden said a crew was in the area moving snow on the upper section to get the water flowing over the road as opposed to under it.

The road has been closed due to some washout around the bridge at the bottom and it will remain closed until it can be better assessed.

The only other problem area was on Woodbine Avenue, just above J.J. Curling Elementary.

Burden said a lot of the work that happened on Monday was about short fixes.

“We’re basically chasing around all the problem areas right now trying to divert the water into ditches and catch basins wherever we can.

“It’ll take us a couple of days to get all this straightened out and cleared up, but no damage to the extent we saw last time.”

Burden credits that to the work that was done prior to the storm and the monitoring of previous problem areas which become “the next set of hot spots” for the next storm.

By Monday night Burden figured the focus would switch to sanding and salting to deal with the impact the anticipated drop in temperatures could have on the city’s roads.

The City of Corner Brook has closed lower Walbourne’s Road after flooding water compromised the road around bridge.
The City of Corner Brook has closed lower Walbourne’s Road after flooding water compromised the road around bridge.

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