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N.L. government can't say when roads washed out by storm will be fixed

Wednesday, November 24th 2021, 3:38 pm - N.L. government can't say when roads washed out by storm will be fixed

Government officials can't say when the roads damaged by an unprecedented rainstorm pounding southwestern Newfoundland will be fixed, as the rain continues to fall Wednesday afternoon.

"This is not a 48-hour fix," said Transportation Minister Elvis Loveless at an afternoon media conference. "This is a big storm. We know that. But our crews are ready."

The department has reported washouts at four locations across the Trans-Canada Highway, along with roads in the Codroy Valley, Channel-Port aux Basques and the surrounding area.

Crews are also watching rising water levels in the Rose Blanche area of the province, along with Grand Bay Bridge in Port aux Basques.

Repairs can begin once the province has an idea of the full situation, and Loveless said the damaged Trans-Canada Highway is the top priority.

Premier Andrew Furey said the storm is an evolving situation, and the full extent of damage is unknown.

But he did say the province has helicopters that can transport people out of the Port aux Basques region if necessary, as roads in and around the community have been washed out.

port-aux-basques Water levels have risen at the Red Rocks turnoff near Port aux Basques. (Troy Turner/CBC)

Furey told CBC's Power and Politics about 5,000 people are isolated and have been cut off from the rest of Newfoundland by the washouts.

Crews have been working throughout the day to assess the damage, with Furey encouraging people to stay home and off of the roads so crews can work effectively.

"We're taking this storm very seriously, and we need you to take this seriously," Furey said.

ryan-moore-truck Ryan Moore was driving his truck along a stretch of road near Doyles when the asphalt beneath him crumbled. (Submitted by Ryan Moore)

CONTINGENCY PLAN IN PLACE FOR SUPPLIES: FUREY

The province is also working with Marine Atlantic, which operates the ferry — a vital link bringing food and other supplies into Port aux Basques — to ensure a safe return to operations.

Furey said Marine Atlantic does have a contingency plan involving the ferry port in Argentia, and a decision to divert supplies to the port could be made if needed.

"Once you get the cargo and people here, right now the road is the issue," said Industry Minister Andrew Parsons said.

Furey said they're not worried about supplies in the province yet, adding the federal government and the Red Cross are ready to help when needed.

This article was originally published for CBC News.

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