Southwestern N.L. mayor says climate change talks needed after another dump of rain

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The mayor of a small town on the southwestern tip of Newfoundland says it's time to have serious conversations about the impact of changing weather on communities like his, after another night of heavy rain.

Brian Button said in an interview Tuesday that at times, the rain falling on Port aux Basques last night was just as heavy as it was during a storm last week that dumped a month's worth of rain on the town in two days.

Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney tweeted Tuesday morning that nearly 50 millimetres of rain had fallen overnight on the community of about 4,000 people.

That's in addition to the 165 mm that fell between Tuesday and Thursday of last week, an amount that caused rushing waters strong enough to tear through four sections of the Trans-Canada Highway.

An Environment Canada rainfall warning was still in effect Tuesday morning, calling for an additional 10 mm of rain and noting that the ground in the area was already near saturation and likely unable to absorb much more water.

Button says the storms, wind speeds and rainfall in his community are becoming more severe, and he says he feels it's time to have serious conversations about how communities like his can better prepare for a changing climate.

Newfoundland and Labrador's government issued a statement saying no significant damage was recorded during Monday night's storm and that work to repair the highway from last week's flooding was ongoing.

"The installation of remaining culverts is delayed due to elevated water levels," the statement said, adding that minor damage was reported along some highways in the Codroy Valley area, just north of Port aux Basques.

The government had hoped the highway would be passable by mid-week, but it now anticipates the repair job won't be finished until later in the week.

Until the roads are fixed, people in the community of Port aux Basques are cut off from the rest of the province, though helicopters are available to fly people out for medical appointments or other urgent needs.

"Residents are encouraged to avail of the air services until the highway is officially opened, otherwise they risk missing appointments," the statement said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2021.

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