TREPASSEY, N.L. – Post-tropical storm Rafael blew past Newfoundland but whipped up wild seas Thursday that crashed through a breakwater in Trepassey on the southeastern coast of the island.
Local resident Sharon Topping took photos and video of the storm surge she said caused more damage to the waterfront than hurricane Igor two years ago.
“We got down there and it was absolutely unreal,” she said from her home in the community of about 700 people.
“It was just wild. Just one wave after the other, high waves and of course the wind blowing it. The spray was going everywhere. It was just absolutely wild. At one point, it looked like a washing machine, an agitator.”
Topping says fresh damage to the newly repaired breakwater has left enough rubble on the main road that about 20 families on the lower coast are stranded.
She and her husband retired to Trepassey two years ago after moving from northern Saskatchewan. They arrived just before hurricane Igor hit on Sept. 21, 2010, causing widespread flooding and road washouts farther north especially on the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.
“Igor didn’t do as much damage here as what this is today.”
Topping said longtime residents could not recall ever seeing the sea in such a state.
Rafael only dropped about six millimetres of rain on nearby Cape Race as she passed more than 500 kilometres offshore with maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometres an hour.
A special weather statement for the Avalon Peninsula warned of powerful surf in the storm’s wake.
Topping said some people took advantage of the calmer and more sheltered waters in adjacent Biscay Bay.
“There must have been 20, 25 surfers out there having a great time with the waves, all in their wetsuits.”