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Newfoundland begins cleanup of hurricane Igor's path of destruction

A Newfoundland Power truck drives through a flooded area of Waterford Bridge Road as it responds to calls during Hurricane Igor in St. John's, N.L., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010.

Keith Gosse/Keith Gosse/The Telegram/The Canadian Press

Gord Newhook gazed Wednesday at about a dozen homes surrounded by water in Gambo, witnessing the devastation left by hurricane Igor after it slammed into eastern Newfoundland a day earlier.

"I'm expecting to see a lot of water," he said as he prepared to head back to his own storm-damaged bungalow, a four-hour drive east in Norman's Cove, N.L.

"They've told me that it's all flooded out, the basement. I have a deep freezer that's full of meat. That's where my stove is ... and it's all flooded out. It's right up to the back doors."

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It's not the first time Mr. Newhook, 59, or other residents along this scenic stretch of coastline have had to clean up after a vicious storm. A torrential downpour in July 2008 dumped 60 millimetres of rain on Gambo in about an hour, flooding homes and washing out roads.

Gambo's mayor lifted the state of emergency early Wednesday that had been declared the day before as powerful winds and sideways rain lashed the town. But power was still out in some areas and citizens with the worst damage will be looking to the provincial and federal governments for disaster relief.

Mr. Newhook said he'll be among those applying for government help.

"Oh, yeah. Guaranteed."

A spokeswoman with Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland said the damage is widespread, with roads and bridges washed out in communities ranging from the Avalon Peninsula to Gambo.

She said crews are trying to evaluate the extent of the damages to residential, municipal and provincial property, but added that it would likely exceed damages caused by tropical storm Chantal. That storm cost about $25 million after it hit the province in 2007.

The Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas bore the brunt of Igor's heavy winds and rains, with St. Lawrence getting 240 millimetres of rain in about 20 hours.

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Premier Danny Williams was expected to visit some of the affected areas Wednesday.

About two dozen communities were cut off by road or bridge washouts. Power was out in several areas, with crews unable to get into some communities.

High winds and heavy swells hampered the search for an 80-year-old man who was swept out to sea from the Random Island area when the road beneath him collapsed during the storm. But the RCMP arrived at the scene midday Wednesday aboard a Department of Fisheries and Oceans vessel to begin their search, Sgt. Boyd Merrill said.

Keith Rodway, a councillor in Clarenville, said the state of emergency there had been lifted and that the main roads were opened Wednesday morning. But he said damage in the town of about 5,200 was extensive and 200 residents were still without water.

"Every street you drive on, everywhere you go, you see remnants of this - you see a lot of debris, you see fallen trees and a tremendous amount of erosion," he said.

"This is the worst storm this town has ever seen and this is the most damage we've ever seen."

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Sam Synard, mayor of Marystown, said his community and the 22,000 people on the Burin Peninsula were cut off from the rest of the province since the road leading to the Trans-Canada Highway was shut down. He said there were trees down throughout the town and roads were badly eroded due to rainfall of about 250 millimetres.

He estimated that several hundred of the 6,500 people in Marystown have flooded basements and other damage to their homes.

"People are stressed a little bit," he said. "It's stressful to find four or five feet of water in your house."

Bill Santin was trying to head to St. John's, N.L., from Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., with his wife but his plans were foiled because the Trans-Canada Highway was closed at Terra Nova National Park.

"Unfortunately, we're kind of marooned," said the resident of Meaford, Ont.

Anna Power, manager of operations for the Canadian Red Cross in St. John's, said volunteers were delivering water and other supplies to people in various communities.

A spokeswoman with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said there were at least three car accidents Wednesday morning in the capital city that were linked to traffic lights not working. One person was injured when a truck ran into a bus and two pedestrians sustained non life-threatening injuries when they were struck by cars.

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