Food shortages hit parts of Atlantic Canada after three days of heavy rain

Shortages of bread, milk and other staples were reported Thursday in communities in southwestern Newfoundland that were cut off by a storm that dumped nearly 200 millimeters of rain in the area, devastating roads and bridges.

And in eastern and northern Nova Scotia, crews were deployed to pump water from basements and repair roads flooded by torrential rains that had hit parts of Atlantic Canada for three days.

In the coastal town of Port aux Basques, in the southwestern corner of Newfoundland, repairs were underway on several roads, including the Trans-Canada Highway, and a helicopter was used on Wednesday to rescue some residents trapped in a yurt, a tent round. like a shelter typically made of tarpaulin and large poles.

Resident Robert Hinks confirmed that supplies in the city were running low.

“There is no bread in the city at the moment; there are no eggs to buy; fresh milk is running low,” Hinks said in an interview Thursday from Port aux Basques. “People go to gas stations and fill up on gas for fear of running out of gas, (but) you can’t go anywhere anyway.”

The city has three gas stations, “(but) none of the refueling trucks can get in … I guess they’ll be empty next week.”

In the nearby town of Codroy, Fire Chief Brian Osmand said four of the area’s highways were bulldozed, leaving 14 families stranded.

“We are making arrangements to make sure your needs are being met,” Osmand said in an interview as his team pumped water from the basement of Hynes Chicken Villa in Tompkins, NL.

Osmand said the Codroy Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which serves 16 communities, had already removed more than a dozen basements Thursday. The fire marshal confirmed that surrounding communities had missed their regular weekly shipments of bread, milk and eggs on Wednesday, leading to shortages.

“We could airlift the basic products back to the community,” he said.

Nova Scotia Prime Minister Tim Houston said Thursday that it would cost at least $ 7 million to repair the damage, adding that the province would request federal funding. “There is a lot of work to be done to rebuild, repair and restore.” #ExtremeWeather #NSTormentas

Osmand said that Wednesday night, when the storm was at its worst, the rain fell at an incredible rate. “It was terrible,” he said, adding that it was too windy to use the fire truck.

“We were making calls for the fire department, and there were times when we couldn’t see a foot in front of us. And it’s not because there was fog, it was just the rain. It was horrible. It’s the most rain I’ve ever seen, and I’m 61 years old … It was like receiving 10 buckets at a time. “

Meanwhile, the ferry service operating between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, NS, was forced to alter its route due to road closures. Marine Atlantic announced Thursday that it would temporarily reroute the crossing to Argentia, in eastern Newfoundland, to ensure that people and supplies can reach the province. This route is usually only offered in the summer months.

The storm, described as an elongated area of ​​low pressure, stalled in the region between Monday and Wednesday. Feeding on the tropical humidity of the Caribbean, it dumped record amounts of rain in many communities, including Port aux Basques, where 165mm accumulated in the last two days.

In the Codroy Valley, a weather station recorded 195 mm of rain. In addition, a gust in the Wreckhouse area reached 141 kilometers per hour; however, that area is known to produce strong winds.

In Nova Scotia, nearly 30 roads and bridges were closed when the rain stopped Wednesday. Most of the damage was reported in Antigonish County, northeastern Nova Scotia, and Victoria and Inverness counties in northern Cape Breton.

Nova Scotia Prime Minister Tim Houston said Thursday that it would cost at least $ 7 million to repair the damage, adding that the province would request federal funding. “There is a lot of work to be done to rebuild, repair and restore,” he said.

Some communities along Cape Breton’s northeast coast received more than 200mm of rain, and multiple washouts forced sections of the scenic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park to close.

In Ingonish River, NS, on the east side of the Cabot Trail, flooding and landslides were reported amid heavy downpours that dumped a record 278mm of rain in the small community. On Thursday, the 15-kilometer stretch between Neils Harbor and Ingonish remained impassable, leaving both communities isolated.

The landslides are separating the two communities from hospitals, long-term care facilities and local high schools.

“It’s still a very unstable road,” said Gourd Robie, the park’s asset manager, “many of the culverts have aged poorly. They may appear intact at the top, but the bottom is not there.”

Robie said one of the park’s employees, Davey Fraser, received minor injuries when his vehicle plunged into a large, dark hole in the road near Little Smokey on Wednesday night.

“It wasn’t until our park employee ran him over that he gave in,” Robie said in an interview Thursday. “It looked good from the surface, but deep down it was a different story … (Fraser) is doing very well, under the circumstances.”

As for road repairs, Robie said she couldn’t provide a time frame, but stressed that park staff were moving quickly to fix things.

“It is a world-class destination and iconic route, but it is also the social and economic lifeblood of the communities here,” he said. “It is a serious closure and we are doing everything we can to open the road as quickly as possible.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 25, 2021.

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