CHANNEL-PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved a request for military assistance for southwestern Newfoundland, where road washouts from a punishing rainstorm have left the region cut off from the rest of the province.
Trudeau issued a brief statement Friday on Twitter, saying members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to the area to provide logistical and transportation support. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said on Twitter the military will provide air support to help with evacuations and maintaining supply chains.
Earlier Friday, construction crews started repairing the Trans-Canada Highway, as the largest town in southwestern Newfoundland – Port aux Basques – dealt with shortages of food and fuel.
The coastal community, which is home to 4,000 people, faced rapidly rising floodwaters Tuesday and Wednesday as a large, low-pressure system dumped more than 160 millimetres of rain over the area, flooding basements and undermining local roads.
The nearby Codroy Valley was inundated with more than 200 mm of rain. Secondary highways at eight locations in the valley were still closed as of Friday due to damage or high-water levels.
On Friday morning, the province shared a video on social media showing an excavator hoisting a large culvert into a hole where a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway used to be, near Overland Brook.
“Contractors also continue to prepare other damaged areas for culverts that have been delivered to the region,” the province’s Transportation Department said in a statement. The department confirmed that repair work on the Trans-Canada Highway will take another week to complete.
Motorists in the region are being urged to avoid the construction sites. Video shared Friday on social media shows a long line of transport trucks carrying shiny, new culverts into the area.
Meanwhile, the cleanup continued in northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, areas that also experienced record-breaking rainfall and howling winds this week. The province has estimated the storm caused $7 million in damage.
Near the community of North River Bridge, several residents along the Trans-Canada Highway were left isolated after bridges were knocked out by swollen rivers and creeks flowing down from the Cape Breton Highlands.
Bev MacAskill, who lives on the Oregon Road, said the only way to get supplies to her home will be by running them along a makeshift line over a fast-moving stream where the bridge used to be.
“We’re going to see if we can have a rope thrown over, because my father is out of medications,” said MacAskill, whose 78-year-old father Angus MacAskill lives on the same property.
“It’s an awful situation in a small community. It’s devastating. We’ve never seen storms that have done damage like this.”
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