Crews working ‘as fast and as safely as possible’ to repair Cape Breton roads, bridges

Cape Breton officials say they are working hard to repair damaged roads and bridges and connect areas that have been cut off from services such as hospitals and pharmacies.

A storm on Wednesday dumped more than 200 millimeters of rain in some areas, including Ingonish River, NS, which saw a total of 290 mm during the storm.

Leaching of roads or bridges in Ingonish, Tarbotvale, White Point and other areas has left residents stranded or facing hour-long detours.

Lyle Donovan, Emergency Management Office Coordinator for Victoria County, said repair work needs to be assessed before construction can begin, and he asked people to be patient.

“We work as fast and as safely as possible. It’s about being safe and accessing people as quickly and as quickly as possible, but we need to be safe when we do that,” he told CBC’s. Information Tomorrow Cape Breton on Thursday.

Tarbotvale completely cut off

The community Tarbotvale is now completely isolated after a 30 meter long steel bonding bridge was washed out. Telephone and internet connections to the local community were linked to the bridge and there is no mobile service in the area so emergency personnel cannot communicate with residents.

Donovan said the creek the bridge crossed is still “fast, rushing water,” so crews can’t come over to check on residents.

“We’ve had visual contact with them through neighbors. They’ve seen them, they’ve seen them outside. They seem to be fine,” he said.

Donovan said it could take days or even weeks to get a route to the community.

“We hope Mother Nature starts working with us and helps us with this daunting task of getting help for everyone.”

Residents of Ingonish are unable to get to the local hospital, Buchanan Memorial Hospital in Neils Harbor or a nearby pharmacy due to impassable roads in the area, including a bridge in Neils Harbor that was sunk on Wednesday. The alternative route is a three-hour drive around western Cape Breton.

‘The reaction has been fantastic’

Larry Dauphinee, deputy inspector for Victoria County, said the pharmacist in Neils Harbor has been on the long journey to keep his store functioning and has sent some prescriptions to Sydney to be filled out so customers on the other side of the closed road can get their medicine.

The pharmacy has had offers from as far away as Pleasant Bay to house staff stuck in Neils Harbor.

Fishermen have offered to transport people who need to get around on the closed road, including to hospitals, but Dauphinee said no transfers have taken place so far due to safety and legal concerns.

“The response has been amazing … many fishermen still have their boats in the water and they are willing to transport back and forth,” he said. “It’s great to see everyone working together. They’re thinking out of the box.”

A road in Cape Breton Highlands National Park will require significant repairs before it can reopen. (Craig Paisley / CBC)

In Dingwall, people managed to sling a rope across a washed-out road and transported supplies using a cooler.

Robie Gourd, Parks Canada’s asset manager for the Cape Breton field unit, said a team of engineers travel to Ingonish from further north to inspect roads and culverts.

A series of flushes have occurred along a 15-mile stretch of the Cabot Trail, including near Broad Cove, where a Parks employee’s vehicle fell about six feet when the road collapsed.

Murdock Burton posted this photo on Facebook of White Point Road, which was wiped out by heavy rainfall and cut off local residents from the rest of Cape Breton. (Murdock Burton / Facebook)

“There’s a long stretch of highway that’s undermined almost to the center line. So from the surface it looks like there’s asphalt intact … while actually below there’s no substructure to the center line. So it’s a very dangerous way, “said Gourd.

Jamie Chisholm, district director for the eastern zone of the provincial department of public works, said at one point there were 30 to 40 roads washed out Wednesday, but that number is declining.

Some bridges lost

Three bridges in Victoria County are complete losses, he said, including the Tarbotvale Bridge, one structure on Oregon Road and another on White Point Road.

“This is far beyond anything I’ve ever been involved in,” Chisholm said. “We also have crews, two shifts working day and night, walking around trying to repair some of the easier roads to get them passable, but our top priority is to try to get in and access those that are not. has access to. and out. “

A ditch floats across the road Tuesday in the Cape Breton Highlands. (Sarah Barrington)

Chisholm said the department is asking for help from private companies to help with repairs.

Rain continues to fall in Cape Breton on Thursday, with up to 20 mm expected in some areas, according to CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin.

Classes are canceled for the rest of the week at Cape Smokey Elementary, Cabot Education Center and North Highlands Elementary.

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