Torrential rain has washed out and flooded roads in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, and forced the evacuation of a trailer park by boats.
Atlantic Canada is in the midst of a three-day storm, that is bringing heavy rain and strong winds. The large, lumbering storm has stalled over the region.
Environment Canada had issued rainfall warnings for much of the province. In Antigonish County, the forecaster said 120 mm of rain could fall, and possibly 150 mm in “isolated areas of heaviest rain.”
“I haven’t seen it like this for as long as I’ve lived here,” said Aaron Coady, a resident of Indian Gardens Trailer Park in the Town of Antigonish.
Coady, who has lived there for 18 years, walked out his door at around 1 p.m. Tuesday and noticed water was already hitting his house.
“I know there were older people down in the trailer park that aren’t aren’t really mobile, so I grabbed my boat and away we went,” he said.
“I got two seniors, some young people and all kinds of cats and dogs.”
Coady estimated he made three or four trips from the flooded homes to the road. His wife and three children were among those evacuated from the park.
Chief Bill Chisholm from the Antigonish Town Volunteer Fire Department credited neighbours and the community for the successful evacuation. He said when firefighters initially arrived, water levels were already incredibly high.
“A couple of cars at the far end, the deepest part of the water was up to their windshield. Part way up their windshields,” he said.
He added that people used trucks, boats and the county-owned rescue gear to get residents out.
“RCMP helped a lot with the cross referencing, along with neighbours, to make sure everyone was accounted for,” he said.
A warming centre was set up at the Antigonish Farmers Market.
A spokesperson from the Canadian Red Cross said there are 40 mobile homes along the road on Maclellan Street, and about 70 people have been forced to leave their homes or asked to shelter-in-place.
Red Cross volunteers have arranged emergency lodging and meals for 33 of the people who were evacuated from the trailer park.
Due to COVID-19 considerations, the Canadian Red Cross arranged hotels, rather than a shelter setting.
Marie Swim was among the trailer park residents who were evacuated and put up in a hotel. She told Global News on Wednesday that she had around a foot of flooding in her home and anticipated she would lose most of her belongings.
Her home was left full of mud and her floor boards were lifting.
“We had a lot of damage. Pretty well anything that was up to a foot high will be going in the garbage.” she said.
After speaking with her insurance company, Swim found out that the damage will not be covered.
“She told me flooding was God’s work.”
Prone to flooding
Chief Chisholm pointed out the town sits where three rivers meet, and is very low to sea level and is susceptible to flooding.
Longtime resident Amanda Lawrence agreed the area typically floods, but this was something she had never seen before.
“Basically, anywhere you go, you’re going to come to a blockade of some sort,” she said.
“I’m just worried about how the water’s going to recede when there’s continuous rainfall.”
Lawrence captured video of the rescue at the trailer park, as well as water washing over a bridge in the area of Lower North Grant.
In the community of Maryvale, a section of a main road was completely washed out.
Warden Owen McCarron with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish said there was no traffic travelling on the road at the time, and no injuries.
Access to H.M. MacDonald Elementary School was blocked as a result of the washout, and students — including Lawrence’s 10-year-old son — were kept after dismissal while officials tried to work out a path for school buses.
“Somehow they made a one-way lane to get the kids home safely,” she said.
McCarron said the road is a major thoroughfare, and he anticipated crews would begin looking at repairs immediately.
Officials were also keeping an eye on a bridge that provides access to the local hospital.
Meanwhile, McCarron said the waters in the area were receding and he hoped the low tide would help the situation.
“Hopefully that, and rainfall falling back a bit will give us a reprieve,” he said.
— With a file from Amber Fryday