Ray Vautier, who is no stranger to the weather in Newfoundland and Labrador, has seen his fair share of torrential rain.
But for the 60-year-old man currently living in Codroy Valley, Vautier has never seen rains as long-lasting as the atmospheric river that is washing away roads and isolating communities in Atlantic Canada this week.
“I’ve often seen heavy rain for short periods, like just a few hours,” he told Global News.
“This is the longest I’ve seen, and it’s the first time I’ve heard 200 millimeters of rain in the forecast for this area.”
Trans-Canada Highway Blasted
On Tuesday night, Newfoundland and other maritime provinces began receiving torrential rains that continued through Wednesday.
The rain quickly washed away roads in some parts of the province. Newfoundland’s RCMP said Wednesday morning that the Trans-Canada Highway in Port-aux-Basques, a major route in the province’s southwestern largest city, was impassable.
Environment Canada is calling for another 70-100mm of rain for Port-aux-Basques throughout Wednesday, with gusts of up to 110km / h.
The city usually receives about 160 mm of rain throughout the month of November. It received 120mm of rain at 10am local time.
Jerry Musseau, the city’s fire chief, told Global News that there have been no reports of injuries so far, but some basements have flooded.
“There is no need to go outside unless absolutely necessary,” he said. “If not, we encourage everyone to stay home until the storm is completely over.”
‘We’re not going anywhere’
About 55 kilometers from Port-aux-Basques is Vautier, who has been trapped in his cabin in the Codroy Valley since Monday.
Vautier and his wife were leaving for their home in La Poile, a remote coastal community, on Monday, but were unable to because the water was too rough for the ferry to take them home.
He told Global News that most of the roads in his area were passable Tuesday night, but when he woke up this morning, some were washed away.
The gravel roads outside his cabin were also damaged.
“I could still get out of this on an ATV, but the Trans Canada is washed out on both sides of us, so we’re not going anywhere,” Vautier said.
Newly discovered flooding: parts of the Trans-Canada Highway still washed away, says Premier
Newfoundland and Labrador brace for ‘unprecedented’ Atlantic storm flooding
Port-aux-Basques and Codroy Valley are among the hardest hit areas right now, said Justin Boudreau, a warning preparation meteorologist for Environment Canada.
He advised residents to “duck at this point,” if they haven’t already.
“It should decrease tonight (Wednesday) … it doesn’t seem like it’s raining a lot, so I hope it stays that way,” Boudreau said.
“The water levels could still be rising. … It is very difficult to know what the water has done under the road, so it is quite dangerous to drive over areas where streams and rivers cross. “
Repairs to affected roads in Newfoundland, specifically parts of the Trans-Canada Highway, were the most important in a government update on Wednesday.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Elvis Loveless told reporters crews are assessing the damage and waiting to begin repairs once the storm subsides.
“This is not a 48-hour solution,” he said. “It’s a big storm, we know that, but our teams are ready for the bad weather. It is a challenge, but one that we are prepared for and hopefully in time we will be able to get the roads up and running and get back to normal. “
Impact of British Columbia Floods on the Retail Supply Chain
With the highway closed, Prime Minister Andrew Furey said supply chain problems are fast becoming one of the government’s biggest concerns.
The concerns echo those of British Columbia, which suffered severe rains just last week that drowned out critical rail and road lines, hampering the movement of goods across the province. BC expects another rain shower later this week.
Furrey said getting the Trans-Canada Highway “back on track” will be a top priority so that goods and services can reach residents in a timely manner.
“But before that, the immediate concern is primarily for the health and safety of those who are being impacted by the current rain,” he said.
“We really want everyone to be safe.”
“It’s about time we started preparing for longer and more intense rains.”
Back in Codroy Valley, Andrew Parsons, Minister for Industry, Energy and Technology, shares Vautier’s concern about the amount of rain.
Newfoundlands are used to wind and rain, but they are not used to large amounts in one go, he said.
“The photos I’m looking at… you try to prepare for it, you think you’re ready for it. But it’s amazing when you see the water level in some areas and the power behind it, ”Parsons said.
BC, Atlantic rains a ‘look into the future’ of Canada’s climate
Vautier expressed concern about future weather events similar to what Newfoundland is experiencing now.
“I’ve never heard of an atmospheric river … I first heard it on the news in British Columbia last week, and lo and behold, yesterday was the first time I ever heard of an atmospheric river for this area,” he said Wednesday.
“It’s about time we started preparing for more intense and prolonged rains.”
Meanwhile, Vautier said he has a week’s supply of food and water at his cabin and plans to go out and watch TV.
“There’s not much else I can do, I can’t go anywhere,” he said. “The truck is full of gasoline, but I can’t even get to the store.”
Newfoundland floods: 100mm rain forecast for province on Wednesday, minister says
– with archives of The Canadian Press.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.