Newfoundlanders mopping up after Chantal

CanWest News Service
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From homeowners with mops and shop vacs to crews in backhoes, the cleanup after post-tropical storm Chantal began in earnest Thursday in eastern Newfoundland.

Chantal dumped up to 180 millimetres of rain on the region, flooding homes and roads and washing out bridges.

Officials said the damage is likely in the millions of dollars.

At Bay Roberts, one of the worst hit towns, engineers were expected to assess the 40-year-old bridge to neighbouring Spaniard's Bay, which dropped more than 50 centimetres in the storm.

"The bridge has been completely shut down to all traffic," said Spaniard's Bay Mayor John Drover. "You can walk over it now, but with any weight at all it could cave in completely."

Drover said the bridge will probably have to be replaced, and that could take months. In the meantime, traffic has been diverted.

States of emergency were lifted in communities on the Avalon Peninsula Thursday afternoon as the floodwaters receded.

One sign that people were beginning to bounce back: the Royal St. John's Regatta, an annual boat race and civic holiday, went ahead in St. John's. It was cancelled the day before by Chantal.

Dennis Shea, duty manager with Fire and Emergency Services, said the main focus Thursday was to get the road network re-established on a temporary basis.

"The roads will all be passable in the next 24-48 hours. Most roads will be passable by the end of today," Shea said.

The links to some cutoff communities were already re-established by Thursday.

But permanent infrastructure repairs are expected to take months, and an estimate on the cost of the damage - and the cost of damaged dwellings as well - won't likely come until the middle of next week.

Premier Danny Williams says the provincial government will act on restoring municipal infrastructure and with helping homeowners repair their properties.

Tropical storm Chantal was the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Forecasters are predicting an above average hurricane season this year, with 13 to 17 tropical storms and seven to 10 of those becoming hurricanes.

CNS 8/02/07 16:10:23

Organizations: Fire and Emergency Services

Geographic location: Eastern Newfoundland, St. John's, Bay Roberts Atlantic

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