Natural Resources

Flooding

Date: January 30, 1942

Location: St. John’s

Easting: 370000

Northing: 5266500

Latitude: 47° 34' 00" N

Longitude: 52° 44' 00" W

Fatalities: 0

Injuries: 0

Source: Daily News, January 31, 1942.

At the time, the flood of 1942 was considered the worst in the history of St. John’s. The combination of melting snow and heavy rain resulted in “hundreds of thousands of gallons of murky water [swishing] and [gurgling] down the stream and streets of St. John’s”. It was quoted as being as memorable as the Great Fire of 1892. Rennie’s River overflowed inundating Fieldian Grounds and surrounding roads. The depth of the water was greater than the wheel-hubs of cars trying to reach Robinson’s Hill. Two children were stranded and were rescued. The western end of Victoria Park was flooded. Near Mill Bridge, the Waterford River over flooded into a lane and surrounded two houses stranding its occupants inside. In the east end, cellars were flooded. King’s Bridge, Queen’s Bridge, and the low-lying areas were flooded. On Water Street water was pouring into a house east of Lesile Street. On Water Street, near Bennett’s Lane, Mr. Courtnay watched a 10 inch trout swim over the street car tracks. “In spite of all night work by Council employees trying to keep gullies and storm sewers clear the run off from the higher levels was so tremendous that it carried surface soil, stones, large and small and anything else that was in its path and deposited it on the Water Street level.” In the West End, residents had to leave their homes and children at school were told stay with other relatives rather than try to get home. A man used a raft on Water Street just above Patrick Street, in order to get people across water measuring more than 2 ft. The street car service was inoperable further west on Patrick street because of an accumulation of sand and silt from the side streets. Other incidents include: The basement of Marshall Motors was flooded resulting in the damage of a large number of motor cars which were stored in the basement. The cars were inundated up over the seats and the employees had great difficulty in getting them out of the building. Also, normally dry river beds on the northern slope of the South Side Hill overflowed their banks and deposited silt on the Southside Road. A sewer pipe opposite St. Mary’s Church became chocked and the water from that also flooded the roadbed. Planks were laid down to able pedestrians to cross. Flooding in Quidi Vidi Lake exceeded flooding two years previous (rain storm in August) due to the ice on the lake. Water from the rivers flowed over the ice and overflowed the banks. Adjacent building were flooded and evacuated. Virginia River reached 9 inches above normal. The Higher Levels were also affected, particularly sections of the Annex which took the overflow from the places above. In cellars and basements, water rose to a height of four and five feet making accessing coal or vegetables impossible. The Memorial College grounds were inundated with water causing Harvey Road to resemble a river resulting from the excess flow from this section. Waterford Bridge River was backed-up along its valley and at Bowering Park the river overflowed across the road to the bottom of Molloy’s Lane. Within the grounds of the R.C. Church and Presbytern at Waterford Bridge the water was nearly four feet deep in places, the river overflowing its banks covering a relatively large area. St. John’s Bridge, at the rear of the property of Hon. R.B. Job, was destroyed in the flood. Flood waters also reached to the Southside Road. The Mill Bridge was in danger of being undermined when the embankment was being washed out east of the bridge. A number of men were on hand and removed the ice and debris coming down the river and saved the bridge. The Gas Company’s yard was flooded. Water, the height of several feet, filled the buildings. The fires had to be extinguished and gas was cut off from the city. The previous fall E.G.M. Cape and Co. contractors, placed about 3000 creosoted piles, some 60 feet long, along the banks of the river and in booms above the Long Bridge. During the storm at approximately 7 a.m., ice on the river began moving downstream from Donovan’s and onwards resulting in the flooding of the banks of the river. Then at about 9 a.m., the ice and piles were in rapid motion and passing under the Long Bridge. The recovery of the logs can be found in the excerpt from February 5, 1942 (Daily News). Mr. Gordon Eddy observed Three feet of water on the main road from Bay Bulls to St. John’s. No serious accident occurred during the flood.

 
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