Newfoundland residents begin clean-up in Leslie’s wake
Published Tuesday, September 11, 2012 6:21AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 11, 2012 10:07PM EDT
Communities in Newfoundland and Labrador have started to clean up in the wake of post-tropical storm Leslie.
While residents and officials begin to survey and repair the damage, they can take some comfort in knowing that it could have been a lot worse.
The region, which was hit hard by Hurricane Igor just two years ago, caught a scaled-down version of Leslie, which was categorized earlier as a hurricane and then a tropical storm.
By Tuesday evening, the Canadian Hurricane Centre had ended all storm warnings for Newfoundland, as Leslie passed over the province out towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Following Leslie’s departure, utility workers in St. John’s worked to reconnect electricity to more than 40,000 homes that had lost power during the storm. At the height of the storm around 100,000 people in St. John’s and on the Avalon Peninsula were without power.
Police urged residents to remain indoors to avoid falling debris and help hasten the clearing of blocked roads.
Earlier Leslie had hammered St. John’s with heavy rains and hurricane-force gusts of wind, leaving behind a trail of damage along eastern Newfoundland.
Several roofs of houses were blown off and fallen tree branches littered and blocked roads.
Residents of St. John’s and several communities along the southeastern coast of the Avalon Peninsula experienced power outages, and all flights were cancelled at the island’s main airport.
Although Leslie was strong, the hurricane centre reports that the storm was not as powerful as 2010’s Hurricane Igor, which caused an estimated $15 million in damages and left parts of the province without power for several days.
"More rain was spread out over the island, but the severity of the storm certainly was thankfully not as strong as Igor," said Couturier.
Leslie’s centre touched down in Fortune, N.L., on the Burin Peninsula, at about 8:30 a.m. local time, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
The effects of the post-tropical storm were felt as far as St. John’s, where wind gusts of up to 131 km/h downed power lines and triggered widespread outages. Waves reached heights of up to 12 metres at an offshore buoy.
The storm prompted Environment Canada to issue weather alerts and hurricane and storm watches for the entire island of Newfoundland. As of 4:00 p.m. local time, those warnings had ended.
The hurricane centre also ended all rainfall warnings for the province, but said that river levels will remain high for several days.
Parts of the province’s west coast were drenched with more than 100 millimetres of rain. The community of Cow Head, on the edge of Gors Morne National Park on the banks of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, recorded the most rainfall with an accumulated 108 millimetres of rain.
Despite the storm’s strength, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said there were no reports of serious injuries or major evacuations.
"We faced the bullet head-on and wanted a test of our emergency plan, wanted to see how our infrastructure was going to stand up," she said Tuesday afternoon.
"You can do all kinds of tests, but there's only one test that counts and that's when you're in the face of a weather event such as this."
Officials say it will be at least a couple of weeks before there are any cost estimates of the damage caused by Leslie.
Leslie shuts down cities, towns
At the height of the storm, power outages forced St. John’s to close all school and municipal buildings with the exception of City Hall.
Officials in the central Newfoundland town of Badger declared a state of emergency and kept their eyes fixed on a 24-metre high water tower that was condemned three weeks ago.
Leslie couldn’t stop a few striking airport workers, who braved wind gusts that managed to pick up a port-a-potty that was tied down with rope.
Meanwhile in the airport, passengers stared at electronic boards that displayed red cancellation notices just before the power went out.
The winds even managed to blow a truck onto its side on the Trans-Canada Highway, west of St. John’s. The RCMP snapped a photo of the truck and tweeted it out.
Earlier during a Tuesday morning conference call, Chris Fogarty of the hurricane centre noted that Leslie would have caused a more severe storm surge if the system had arrived a few hours earlier when tides were higher.
Instead, the storm touched down during low tide.
With files from The Canadian Press