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Canada Newfoundland takes in immense damage left by elevated water levels

A washed-out stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway is seen near Little Rapids, Nfld., on Jan. 13, 2018.

Sandy Dunphy/THE CANADIAN PRESS

There are remarkable scenes of damage in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador after water levels rose significantly over the weekend, washing out or endangering several roads including the Trans-Canada Highway.

Transportation Minister Steve Crocker said Monday the damage was immense and had to be seen to be believed.

Several videos on social media showed gushing torrents of water flowing underneath pavement or cutting roads in half.

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"I've never seen anything like it," Jackie Brake Crocker said of conditions near her home in Trout River on the western coast. "A big stretch of Main Street was under water and on the other side of the road, they had water all around their houses."

Officials in western Newfoundland estimate the damage to homes and infrastructure will be in the millions.

Backhoes were dispatched to several communities to fill in roads that were cut in half. Transportation and Works had crews on site in Little Rapids, where the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway washed out over the weekend.

The minister said the worst area he saw was Frenchman's Cove on the south coast, but adds that the Northern Peninsula and Bonne Bay were also hit hard.

Heavy rains and mild temperatures across the Atlantic region saw power lines downed, buildings battered and roads cleaved away, flooded or clogged with ice chunks over the weekend.

In New Brunswick, more than 100 people in Musquash were allowed to return home after being evacuated from their homes Saturday night due to concerns about the water level at the nearby East Branch dam.

Some areas of the province were deluged by more than 100 millimetres of rain since Saturday, causing localized flooding and water levels at the dam to rise to near capacity.

In Trout River, N.L., Brake Crocker said the rains were so heavy that some streets were completely submerged and homes damaged by flooding, leading to a state of emergency being declared.

She said the school had so much water around it that it "was like it was on an island."

The community of about 600 people was without power for about 26 hours, and roughly 20 people were evacuated from other side of river amid fears they would be cut off if their bridge got washed out. But, she said the water came up a couple of inches from the bottom of the bridge before it began to recede.

Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons said a state of emergency has been lifted there, but warned that residents need to be careful on roadways that may be unstable after swollen rivers spilled their banks and tore away chunks of streets.

Premier Dwight Ball toured the west coast over the weekend and will reach out to the federal government for assistance, saying he's never seen that kind of damage from a January thaw before.

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