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Torrential rain triggers mudslides

Heavy rains triggered three mudslides in Rose Blanche – Harbour Le Cou last week, causing culverts to become blocked with wood and debris. – René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Incorporated

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ROSE BLANCHE – HARBOUR LE COU — The heavy rainfall overnight last Monday triggered a rock slide some time around 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Meteorologist Eddie Sheerr said that Port aux Basques got almost 65 mm of rain. “Well, for starters, it’s a side road. It’s not our main thoroughfare in town. You know, there were actually, on that same hillside, there were three (rock slides). There were two smaller ones, and then one of the bigger ones that came down and put the wood and everything right across the road and just totally blocked off that road, and then plugged a few of the culverts and stuff within the road, that allow the water to pass through,” explained Mayor Gordon Edwards. “But that’s been opened up now. We had a contractor down yesterday (July 4) there and they cleared all that stuff up. It wasn’t a huge mudslide by no stretch, but I mean, it was a fair size.” Luckily for one resident, they had left their home before the mudslide happened. Had he still been home, he would’ve been stuck until the road was cleared later that day. “It just so happened that particular road, there’s one permanent residence and a seasonal residence down at the end of that road. So the permanent resident just left probably about ten minutes prior to that and just kind of left for the day, if you will, and that’s when this happened,” said Edwards. “So he was fortunate to get his truck out of there at least.” Work continued the next day, and the process of clearing mud and debris from culverts can be lengthy. “They’ve still got a little bit of work to do to dig those areas out and clean those areas up to expose the culverts again,” said Edwards. Aside from the culverts, there isn’t a lot of damage. “There’s a little bit of… couple of water lines that run down there in that area, but nothing there was damaged because it was already buried anyway.” The heavy rainfall also presented other challenges, particularly with the roadways. “Pretty much all the shouldering and stuff on all the roadways. There was quite a bit of wash out, and then with that, of course, there’s a lot of debris, gravel and everything that went across the road as well. So you had all this loose gravel and everything on the road, which can be dangerous in some respects to drivers, right. Because you get just that loose gravel now you get rocks flicking out,” explained Edwards. “So you’ve got the shouldering that there’s deep breadths in there in various places. So from a pull off perspective, that’s not possible right now in those areas, but we have reached out to the department of transportation and highways to get some personnel to come down and assess those areas.” Currently the department has the situation under advisement and is conferring with other department members in order to plan a course of action. “We did get a response back from them, so they’re just, you know, they’re just going to be discussing it with their various crews, I guess, because you’ve got to remember, like down here, the roadways in town, they’re a combination of provincially maintained and local roads,” said Edwards. “There’s one area here where we had a couple of slides with the one bigger one, of course, blocking the road, but that has since been cleaned up and passable now at least.” Other factors are also being considered, like the potential of the heavy rain to undermine the existing road infrastructure. “That is always a concern, especially in that particular area there where you have a lot of water that comes down that hillside, and there’s a lot of big timber on that hillside,” said Edwards. “I remember a number of years ago, we had a high wind here that took down a lot of trees, so you got a lot of blow downs up there, but those trees, when they come down, they end up uprooting a lot of soil with them. So then that’s sitting there and then water starts flacking up and then you get one of these torrential downpours, and it’s like a dam. Eventually it just breaks and takes everything in its path with it.” For the most part, there wasn’t a lot of damage to residential areas, but if issues are noticed, people are advised to contact the town. “There was a little bit of localized flash flooding, if you will, with some of the residents here within their basements and stuff, but they reached out to the town and got some pumps and what have you and were able to pump water out,” said Edwards. The town is working diligently to repair whatever issues they can as they are identified, and will continue to do so as they await notification from the Department of Highways. Currently there is no timeline on when everything will be completed, as assessments have yet to be completed, but the mayor is confident that things are moving in the right direction. “We have our staff within town going around and doing various repairs that they that they can, and then, you know, I actually haven’t been out today to see whether or not the Department of Highways has come out and made a visit or not. But those are things that we just keep our eye on and keep the communication line open with them.”

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