Fishing boat sinks during weekend storm

Heavy rain, freezing rain, high winds and spring tides collude to disrupt power, damage roads and flood properties

STRAIT AREA: Two members of a five person crew are dead after the FV Tyhawk – Elsipogtog capsized 16 nautical miles off the shores of Chéticamp on April 3.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) received a call from the vessel at 5:46 p.m. saying it was sinking.

Four members were rescued from the water that evening and taken to hospital, however Seth Monahan, who has been identified through social media, later died.

Craig Sock, the captain of the FV Tyhawk – Elsipogtog is missing and presumed dead after an unsuccessful 25 hour search by the JRCC, which was suspended after the region was severely hit with freezing rain and only allowed the CCGS Cape Roger to patrol the waters.

“At this time, the Elsipogtog chief and council send our prayers and deepest sympathies to the families of the two crew members who perished in the accident, and to the families of the crew members who are recovering,” the Elsipogtog First Nation Band Council said in a post on their Facebook page.

According to Environment Canada, the Chéticamp area received 50.6 millimetres of precipitation on April 3.

Photos by Nicole Fawcett
The freezing rain experienced in Inverness County also claimed many trees, including this one leaning into Route 19 on April 4.

The early spring storm last weekend knocked out power for thousands and flooded roads and properties around the Strait area.

Starting on April 2 and continuing through the next day, and into April 4, areas in the southern part of the region were hit by heavy rains, which mixed with high spring tides to cause flooding. Areas more to the north were pelted with sheets of freezing rain, and in addition to widespread power outages, those areas also dealt with flooding.

According to Environment Canada, in Port Hawkesbury precipitation totals were 33.1 mm on April 2, another 44.2 mm on April 3, and 75.2 mm on April 4.

In Canso, wind guests were up to 64 kilometres an hour, according to Environment Canada.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the sea level in Arichat was at 1.9 metres on April 3.

Photo by Jake Boudrot
There was a few feet of water on the Petit de Grat ballfied on April 4 after the community was inundated by heavy rain, mixed with spring tides to create storm surges in some areas.

This led to the loss of power for residents throughout Inverness and Antigonish counties, with power outages in some parts of Richmond and Guysborough counties.

Stacey O’Rourke, director of corporate communication with Nova Scotia Power, told The Reporter the storm impacted approximately 28,000 people across the province, and 20,000 were in Cape Breton. She said the loss of power service was attributed to “prolonged freezing rain.”

“Cape Breton and Northern Nova Scotia were the hardest hit where freezing rain caused ice build-up on trees and power lines,” O’Rourke explained. “This resulted in broken poles, broken wires and trees making contact with our equipment which takes time to repair.”

More than 95 per cent of customers impacted by the storm were restored at press time, according to NSP.

“We continue to have 64 powerline technicians, 20 forestry technicians, 15 transmission field technicians, and other field support staff working in the eastern mainland and western Cape Breton area to restore power as quickly as possible,” O’Rourke said on April 5.

It was quite a scene on April 4 in Inverness County after a lengthy freezing rain storm knocked out power for days in some communities.

The storm also brought with it high winds which forced the Canso Causeway to be closed to all vehicles over 2.5 metres by the Department of Transportation and Active Transport (DTAT) on April 3.

By the evening of April 3, the DTAT confirmed that in Inverness County, the General Line Road was closed due to flooding, as was MacIntyre Road in Queensville, which was closed at the entrance to Trans-Canada 105.

The DTAT said that the East Margaree Crossing Road was closed, while the Marble Mountain Road in Malagawatch was down to one lane, and the intersection of Mabou Harbour Road and Cummings Lane was washed out and impassable.

Other roads not closed but considered passable with caution, according to the DTAT were: Scotch Hill Road; West Big Interval Road; Mill Valley Road; Victoria Road; Cody Road; Mountain Road; Lochban Road; and North Highlands Road.

Foot Cape Road was considered by the DTAT as passable on either end, but not to through traffic.

More northern parts of the Strait area experienced hours of freezing rain on April 3 and 4 which flooded roads around Inverness County.