Equipment Failure Causes Some Flooding Saturday

A burnt out motor was apparently the cause of a tidegate that failed last Saturday and sent more than two feet of floodwaters into the Oak Island and lower Revere Street neighborhoods.

Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said he plans to call for a full investigation as this is the second time this year that this type of flooding has occurred.

“This is the second time this year and it also happened last year,” he said. “We’ve spent in excess of $1 million down there on flood control and this shouldn’t be happening. When the tide came up, it just didn’t close and all the water came in. There were probably a dozen homes with water all around. People were very angry.”

He said he started getting phone calls from residents at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.

DPW Superintendent Don Goodwin said that not only did the motor fail – which has happened before – but also the communications system didn’t properly notify workers on call who could have manually fixed the problem.

Goodwin said it is not the first time, and he feels for the residents and plans to remedy the situation.

“It was a motor fault; that’s a certainty,” he said. “If I lived down there, I’d be upset because there was two feet of water down there. It was a nightmare and there’s no getting away from that. We’ going to have to see if we can engineer some failsafe to put on, perhaps maybe a double motor…What we don’t understand is the communication sent to us notifying us of the problem. It seems we didn’t get it until two or three hours after the event and by that time the tide was going out. We need to eliminate the problems.”

As far as communication goes, Goodwin said the computers seem to acknowledge that something was sent, but the answering service didn’t notify the workers on call. Had they been notified, he said, they would have been able to manually close the tidegate – which is located on the B&M tracks – and, literally, stem the tide.

The entire area is below sea level.

The flooding, which went all the way from Oak Island to lower Revere Street and Sagamore Street, was caused by high tides and not a rain event. When the tide rises, the tide gate motor triggers and closes the gate, preventing flooding.

The motor on this particular tidegate, Goodwin said, might be too weak as it has burnt out before.

That is why he said they plan to have an engineer look into the problem and see if a stronger motor is needed and if a backup motor system might be appropriate.

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