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'Our major concern is flooding,' NL mayor on storm Chris

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Thursday, July 12, 2018, 7:03 PM - Residents in St. John's, N.L., are preparing for Post-Tropical Cyclone Chris  as the system continues on its track towards Atlantic Canada.

A tropical cyclone statement remains in effect for the Avalon, Bonavista and Burin peninsulas. Chris is expected to pass over or near southeastern Newfoundland Thursday afternoon or evening as a strong post-tropical storm.

"In the city our major concern is flooding," St. John's mayor Danny Breen told The Weather Network. "Our staff have identified potentially problematic flooding areas. Areas that we know have been prone to flooding before. We will spend the next 24 to 36 hours before the storm just making sure that the culverts are all cleared out, and the catch basins are clear so that we can make sure the water has a place to go."

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The city's public works department has been busy preparing equipment and sandbags ahead of the storm.

"Trucks are fueled up, and our staff are ready to tackle any issues that come about," said Breen. "Our main priority of course is public safety. We also want to make sure to keep the roads open for emergency vehicles for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Eastern Health, and our own fire department to respond to any emergencies."


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If need be, Breen said St. John's will open its emergency operations centre.

In terms of preparedness, officials are asking residents to check sump pumps, stay clear of coastlines and secure or remove any loose objects.

"They need to make sure they have their belongings ready in case they need to leave their home, and that they have food and water," said the mayor. "If they have a generator, make sure it's filled up and ready to go. Also, during the height of the storm if they don't need to go out, then don't go out. It's safer to stay at home."

As residents gear up for Chris, Breen recalled the powerful windstorm of March 2017  that brought gusts up to 160 km/h -- roughly the equivalent of a low-end category 2 hurricane.

Roofs were blown off completely and at the height of the storm, over 70,000 Newfoundland Power customers were without electricity.

"It played havoc on our traffic signals at the time and caused us quite a bit of disruption here in the city," he said.

Looking back, Hurricane Maria was the last cyclone to make landfall in Newfoundland. It hit Cape St. Mary as a tropical storm on Sept. 16, 2011.

"We have had a couple of flooding incidents over the years," said Breen. "We have crews on standby and we have our full complement of staff and equipment that are ready to deal with whatever comes our way. We also have a great deal of cooperation with our neighbouring municipalities."

City officials encourage St. John's residents to follow the city's social media  channels for the latest on Chris.

"We will find our way through the issues as they arise."


Editor's note: This story was originally published on Wednesday, when Chris was still a Tropical Storm. The article has been updated to reflect that the storm has since weakened. 

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