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Dog teams well cared for after evacuation from flooded Labrador community

The community of Mud Lake was being evacuated early Wednesday morning.
The community of Mud Lake was being evacuated early Wednesday morning.

MUD LAKE, Labrador —Watson Rumbolt finally left the devastation of flood-ravaged Mud Lake Wednesday night, but Thursday morning there was a bright spot — the outpouring of help and support from people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and beyond.

“It's unreal I can't explain it. It's just unreal how thankful I am,” Rumbolt said.

Rumbolt said he was the last resident to leave Mud Lake Wednesday night on a search and rescue helicopter, as he stayed behind to ensure his 30 husky dogs got evacuated. He also brought the family's bunny rabbit to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

He said when the SPCA put out a call for help, people responded with donations, dog food and much more.

Two teams are with relatives and another with friends and Rumbolt was getting ready to visit with them this morning, although he'd lost his clothes somehow in the evacuation.

Rumbolt was also amazed at the generosity of people who helped the displaced residents from the town of 46.

He and many members of his family were given shelter at the Big Land B&B and people turned up with food donations — five trays this morning alone.

Many other displaced residents are staying with relatives and friends.

It was late Wednesday evening when Rumbolt finally left Mud Lake. Several men, including his two sons, had stayed behind and Rumbolt says he was the last to go as he got the huskies sorted.

Other family members, including his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren had left early Wednesday morning.

Among the community's losses was his son's new home built on stilts six feet off the ground, other residents' homes and possessions, as well as flooded vehicles left on the other side of the Churchill River.

He said his son's home looked like it was floating.

“(The community) is pretty well all underwater. A lot of homes are flooded and everything is almost up to the top of the windows of some houses,” he said.

His home was on higher ground.

“I tell you it was when it really hit me when I shut my door to walk away from my lifetime of work. Everything I own ... Our lives have been turned upside down.”

While Rumbolt was thankful over how people have been helped, he isn't extending any gratitude to the Newfoundland and Labrador government.

Despite assurances from Nalcor that Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project was not at fault, Rumbolt remains convinced of what caused the ice jam.

“We're 100 per cent it was Muskrat Falls. Mud Lake is one of oldest communities in Labrador. (This amount of flooding) has never happened before, not even close,” Rumbolt said.

He said this year saw the lowest water levels until, he insists, something changed because of the Muskrat Falls project.

It was then, Rumbolt said, he predicted flooding but said he was not expecting what happened overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.

Nalcor, however, has told media operations at the facility are not impacting downstream water levels and no water has been released from the reservoir.

“I hope the Newfoundland government will see what they did to the people ... Are they going to rebuild our houses every year?

“I hope (government) are thinking about that today — what they did that destroyed people's lives when the people didn't want (Muskrat Falls) in the first place,” he said.

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