Muskrat to blame? Evacuated Mud Lake fears megaproject caused flood

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Muskrat to blame? Evacuated Mud Lake fears megaproject caused flood

Many from Mud Lake and surrounding area are blaming Muskrat Falls for the flood that forced the community to evacuate Wednesday.

Without knowing the extent of the damage, a number of residents are already weighing whether or not to fix or rebuild their homes once water levels subside.

"It leaves the future of the community, in my opinion, up in the air," says Sara Rumbolt, who believes her newly constructed home has sustained significant damage.

"If it's going to flood again because of the whole dam project going on, it's not worth rebuilding every year to have them flood us out."

Should her family choose to remain in Mud Lake, Rumbolt said she'll rarely have peace of mind.

"It'll make me scared every time it rains," she nervously laughed.

"I'll be thinking, 'Oh no.' And then next year, when it comes time for break up and freeze up, I'm going to be thinking, 'Okay, do we got to get ready to pack our bags and run again or are we going to be safe?'"

Rumbolt's extended family of nine — and their two dogs — are staying at Big Land Bed and Breakfast, where doors have been opened to evacuees.

Owner Ray Godwin also blames Muskrat for the flood.

"My opinion, 98 per cent sure that it's to blame on Nalcor," Godwin said.

"Guess what, it's not mother nature. Not when you're talking to people who are 70 or 80 years old and they've never seen flooding like it before."

Nalcor responds

Mud Lake is on the Churchill River, downstream from Muskrat Falls. This is the first spring thaw since the creation of the Muskrat reservoir. However, officials with Nalcor are steadfast that the company's operations are not to blame.

"We are not doing anything to manipulate the flows of the river," said Deanne Fisher, Nalcor's general manager of corporate affairs. 

"Anything that is happening with the spring thaw, it's really just passing through the spillway. So we're not doing anything with our normal operations to have impacted that water flow downstream."

Fisher said Nalcor has a river management team and ice experts "watching this constantly," but she understands why residents are raising questions and doubts. 

"We don't want anybody to think that we are underestimating the challenge that this has had. If there was something in our operations that we could have done to impact that, we absolutely would have done so," Fisher said.