NEWS

N.L. braces for tropical storm Leslie

09/07/2012 11:41 EDT | Updated 11/07/2012 05:12 EST
Newfoundland is bracing for the possible impact of tropical storm Leslie, as residents continue to grapple with memories of another devastating storm two years ago.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Leslie from a category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned the slow-moving system is expected to regain strength as it moves north.

It remains unclear whether Leslie will even strike Newfoundland. Meteorologists say it is too early to predict the final track of the storm, which nonetheless could power into the island next week.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Friday there are many possibilities for Leslie, which should pick up speed in the coming days but "may miss land completely."

In St. John’s, city director of public works Paul Mackey says officials are not taking any chances.

"[We have] sandbags in case we need them to control some flooding,” Mackey said. “Just preliminary at this stage, but we've already started that work."

Mackey warns that if Leslie does hit, wind may cause more damage than rain.

“This time of the year wind is a bigger concern, really, because you've got the trees still in full foliage... so high winds can do a lot of damage, as people remember [from] Igor,” Mackey said.

“It really surprised us how much damage was done in a very short time.”

Igor left thousands of people without power for days in eastern Newfoundland in September 2010, as hydro crews worked overtime to repair the damage.

Meanwhile, on the Burin Peninsula, residents are concerned about Leslie’s possible impact.

Fresh memories of flooding

Marystown, N.L., resident Michelle Clarke’s basement was flooded by Igor, and she's been lobbying the town council for years to get a crushed culvert beside her house repaired.

“We're going to have another situation where my basement is going to flood again,” Clarke said.

“It's going to go into the drains in my basement, and it's a continual thing if it doesn't get fixed.”

The mayor of Marystown says council is doing what it can, but needs more help from the provincial and federal governments to increase the size of culverts.

That, Sam Synard says, will help prevent Igor levels of damage from happening again.

“Some of it has been repaired, some of it has been repaired temporarily, and some of it has not been repaired at all,” Synard told CBC News.

“So we're two years into the process, and some of it is our own doing in that we're waiting for, I guess, approval to put in much better infrastructure.”

Other municipal politicians on the Burin Peninsula are also concerned.

Lewin's Cove, N.L., Mayor Bill Wakeley says he has been pressing the provincial government to dig ditches, in an effort to protect the sea-level houses flooded by Igor.

“My concern is if the water starts building up in those ditches, I think some of the residents could get some flooding there,” Wakeley said.

On the Avalon Peninsula, Sunnyside Mayor Robert Snook remains hopeful.

"We certainly don't want to see another Igor, that's for sure," Snook said Friday.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Friday the "threat of Leslie on Nova Scotia has been decreasing but is by no means 'zero.'"

Another hurricane, Michael, is not expected to affect Newfoundland, as it has been tracking to the east.

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