After several damaging rainstorms in recent years, areas of northern Cape Breton are taking measures to avoid flooding and washouts.
A storm heading into the Maritimes this weekend will bring snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued rainfall warnings for all of Nova Scotia including northern Cape Breton where as much as 40 to 80 millimetres may fall between Friday and Saturday.
Lyle Donovan, emergency management co-ordinator for Victoria County, said the municipality is adjusting to heavier rainfalls in the fall and winter.
"It seems like the conditions are getting worse for us," he said. "Typically, years ago, when wintertime comes, all we see is snow…(now) with climate change following a snowstorm, we get a rainstorm."
He said Nova Scotia Public Works, along with Parks Canada — which oversees a large section of Victoria County encompassing the Cape Breton Highlands National Park — have come together to prepare for this weather system.
Donovan wants people living in the area to avoid eroding banks and brooks with high water levels, and for drivers to prepare for possible hydroplaning.
In the last two years, two rainfall systems have caused $40 million in damage within the Cape Breton Highlands, which spans both Victoria and Inverness counties.
The first storm came in November 2021 and caused the washout of a section of the Cabot Trail, between Ingonish and Neils Harbour, that needed emergency repairs before it could reopen three weeks later.
A second system came in Feb. 2022, which resulted in a section of the Cabot Trail in North Mountain to be impassable due to washouts, sending travellers on an hours-long detour.
Donovan said both the province and the federal government have since replaced many bridges and culverts with new infrastructure that is designed to withstand more water.
"When they did the repair work, they prepared for the next storm of equal or even larger size to make sure that the areas are prepared. So they're doing some mitigation strategies and, hopefully, it'll be to our benefit."
He said another thing that has changed over time is that people living in the area are now better prepared for emergencies.
He said that means stocking up on food and generators in the event of being cut off from the power grid and major transportation routes.
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