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Another flood like last year could mean end of farm in Noel’s Pond

A photo taken during the most recent flooding in Noel's Pond shows an excavator operator with Marine Construction talking with a Transportation and Works official at the bridge in the community.
A photo taken during the most recent flooding in Noel's Pond shows an excavator operator with Marine Construction talking with a Transportation and Works official at the bridge in the community. - Star file photo

A year after flooding ravaged the farm of brothers Lewis and Don White in Noel’s Pond, Don says another flood would spell the end of the 6th generation family farm.

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He said with the help of family and a local contractor spending from January of 2018 when the flood occurred to late September to try and rehabilitate the damage on the farm they brought part of the property back to a semblance of what it was.

“If this type of flooding was to reoccur, my family don’t have the manpower or financial ability to continue as farmers,” White said. “We had seven acres of lost production as a result.”

He said as for any government assistance, they had very little if anything, that was positive.

White said Fisheries and Land Resource Minister Gerry Byrne, who is responsible for agriculture, referred to them as “hobby farmers,” not subsistence farmers as they believe they are, and thus would not be available for financial assistance from his department.

He said during the summer the Department of Transportation and Works rebuilt Route 460 and to him they created a bigger dam across the “river valley” by raising the roadbed about 15 inches at the location of their property.

“If another flood were to occur, this would cause the water to back up further on our property and cause even more damage,” he said.

White said while efforts were started to dredge out under the bridge at Warm Creek, it was not cleaned out sufficiently due to interference from the Federal Department of Fisheries and the Provincial Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

He said those departments wouldn’t allow equipment into the riverbed to effectively clean under the bridge and because of limited efforts the location is infilling again, and sandbars are appearing where the dredging was done.

White said the only positive thing was the Town of Stephenville hired a contractor to remove and old railbed down river to alleviate flooding caused by water backing up above Route 490.

He said the town also lowered the level of Noel’s Pond by removing an earthen dam above their controlled concrete structure.

Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Rose said he had what he felt was a good meeting with Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker back in October.

He said he told Crocker his department had done a phenomenal job on Route 460 but stressed to him the importance of that road into Stephenville and how he felt the north side of the bridge along White’s farm needed armour stone to be completed to alleviate the potential of Warm Creek breaching its banks.

Rose said if this happens it could take out the new infrastructure the Department of Transportation and Works just put into the new road development.

He said Crocker agreed to have his department look at it and possibly do some work there in the upcoming spring season.

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