Bridge washes away in water-weary Nova Scotia
Published Tuesday, November 9, 2010 10:31PM EST
Nova Scotia's Emergency Management Office says flooding across the province remained stable on Tuesday, but the waters were so strong a Yarmouth County bridge collapsed and washed away.
The truss bridge in Tusket on Trunk 3 collapsed at about 8 p.m. local time, officials said.
While parts of Barrington, Argyle and Yarmouth remained under a state of emergency late Tuesday, no new evacuations were planned, according to a storm update bulletin. The province has removed about 120 families from their homes in the wake of the flooding, which has turned dozens of streets into small lakes.
No significant rainfall is expected for southwestern Nova Scotia for the remainder of the week, according to Environment Canada. However, officials are concerned about water levels at the Tusket Falls Main Dam, which is also known as the Vaughn Lake Dam.
The storm bulletin warned that despite the fact that water levels at the dam fell slightly on Monday, it appears water levels "were rising slowly today."
"(Nova Scotia Power) said water levels may not peak until a couple of days after the rainfall has ended," the bulletin said. "NSP crews will remain on site at all dams until water levels return to normal."
Rick Janega of Nova Scotia Power told CTV Atlantic that the dam is just under 28 feet in elevation, which is below the maximum operating level.
"But we still have a lot of water upstream to come at the Tusket system in the next day or two," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said his government is doing its best to cope with the flooding that has forced evacuations and overwhelmed roads and dams in the southwest part of the province.
The flooding resulted from heavy downpours that have hit parts of southwestern Nova Scotia over the past four days.
Since the weekend, some areas have received "in the order of about 250 millimetres of rain," Dexter told CTV News Channel in a telephone interview from Halifax on Tuesday morning.
That means that in areas such as Yarmouth County, residents are seeing the equivalent of two months of rain in less than a week.
Dozens of homes across the region have been flooded. On Tuesday, homes in Shelburne County began taking on water, with area dams and rivers swollen from the days of rain.
Weeks of extra rain preceded recent storm
Dexter said the downpour that began on the weekend came in addition to heavier-than-average rainfall in recent weeks.
"This four-day event, in and of itself, is really adding to what were water levels that were already climbing and water tables that were already high."
The result of so much rain is a general overwhelming of infrastructure that wasn't built to withstand such volumes of water, Dexter said.
"We need to be able to replace that and to deal with this," said Dexter.
"As a very practical matter…people have to be able to get in and out of their communities, and the infrastructure that's there has to be able to withstand more severe and more regular weather than we've seen in the past."
When the premier spoke with The Canadian Press on Monday, he estimated that it could take weeks to determine the full extent of damage caused by the flooding.
In that interview, Dexter said officials will have to determine what they can to do to improve conditions in the short term. But the repair of damaged bridges and dams could take a long time.
Dexter is expected to fly over the affected areas on Wednesday to see the damage for himself.
Parts of New Brunswick along the Bay of Fundy have also been hit with major rainfall, as much as 300 millimetres of rain in some cases.
Battis said the rainfall in New Brunswick amounts to the equivalent of three months worth of rain in just a few days.
New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety has warned people living around streams and rivers to be mindful of the present conditions. Residents have been advised to take caution when driving and to take precautions to protect their homes from flood damage.
With files from The Canadian Press