Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Weather repairs began Thursday in southwestern Newfoundland, but it is expected to take about a week before everything is back to normal. (Héloïse Rodriguez-Qizilbash / Radio-Canada)

More water is on its way to the already storm-hit southwest coast of Newfoundland when two washed-out sections of the Trans-Canada Highway reopened Monday, and helicopters continued to transport people over the remaining washouts.

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Port aux Basques, Burgeo and Ramea, which could bring an additional 60 to 80 millimeters to an area that last week experienced record totals and many injuries, according to meteorologist Dale Foote.

Foote, with the weather office in Gander, says there could be up to 100mm of higher terrain over the next 36 hours.

“That rain is expected to begin tonight or late this afternoon for Port aux Basques and continue until probably around lunchtime on Tuesday with heavy rain at times,” he told CBC Radio’s Newfoundland Tomorrow on Monday.

“We have wind gusts off Port aux Basques, right up to Hawke’s Bay, with gusts increasing tonight with gusts up to 130 [km/h] in the Wreckhouse area and up to 100 in areas north of it. ”

Foote said there is certainly concern about the potential for flooding along the southwest coast. He said the area is at a higher risk than what it would normally be given the rain that had fallen last week.

Melton Keeping left Burnt Islands on Sunday morning as he went through leaching and hitchhiking on his way to Deer Lake. (Héloïse Rodriguez-Qizilbash / Radio-Canada)

He said Environment Canada’s meteorologists have alerted emergency teams to the forecast.

With the rain expected to subside Tuesday afternoon, Foote said the rain could be just behind Tuesday night and into Wednesday for the southwest coast, west coast and part of the northern peninsula.

“So the rain will stop, but at times there will be strong westerly winds and snow showers,” he said.

Walks slowly

Crews are slowly but surely in the process of rebuilding roads, but some residents on the southwest coast could not wait for them to be finished.

Melton Keeping lives on the Burnt Islands, about 30 kilometers east of Port aux Basques and only accessible via Route 470.

He works aboard ships, sails the Great Lakes and had to take a plane out of Deer Lake on Monday.

Keeping got a ride as far as the first barricade near Port aux Basques on Sunday morning, where a stretch of road was washed out from last week’s storm. So with the luggage in hand, he walked over to the other side of the unfinished remodel on foot.

“Most of it is filled in now,” he said. “It holds up. They know what they’re doing. They have good guys working on it.”

James Gallant, owner of Killick Cafe in Stephenville, says he has felt the pressure from the disconnected supply chain. (Héloïse Rodriguez-Qizilbash / Radio-Canada)

Keeps excited a turn and crossed another part of the leachate to land in the North Branch. Then another stroll followed by another lift ride put him in Stephenville, where he and another traveler were waiting for a lift to Corner Brook.

It is still said that people in Port aux Basques feel the frustration over the road closures and diverted ferry connections, but things are slowly coming together with the Marine Atlantic ferry shipments on their way to the community and refilling gas stations in the area.

Meanwhile, some business owners north of the affected stretch of road are also feeling stressed by a delayed supply chain.

James Gallant owns Killick Cafe in Stephenville, where one of his shipments was canceled and another delayed.

“I think there will be some unforeseen difficulties that may arise,” he said.

“If they do not show up one day and I can not find a suitable cost-effective replacement, it will hurt your bottom line.”

Gallant also owns a gift shop, and on his way into the holiday season, he is worried that his shipments may arrive late.

“We have things in northern Sydney that can not reach us. Our season is short now, we are a month away,” he said.

“We’re good for right now, but in the next week or two, if things don’t work out, we’ll have empty seats on our shelves. And Christmas items are not sold in January.”

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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