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Corner Brook sports teams spend extra days stormbound in Port aux Basques

The Tim Hortons shop in Port aux Basques may have been barely visible, but it became a busy spot as one of the few food establishments with electricity during a power outage that struck the area Sunday.
The Tim Hortons shop in Port aux Basques may have been barely visible, but it became a busy spot as one of the few food establishments with electricity during a power outage that struck the area Sunday. - Contributed

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

That’s how Jamie Pike looked at having to stay in Port aux Basques much longer than planned.

Pike is an assistant coach with the Corner Brook Royals atom minor hockey team.

The squad was in the gateway town for the annual Sam Rose tournament held this past weekend. While they got to Port aux Basques easily enough Friday afternoon, they were not expecting the weather to prevent them from making their scheduled departure Sunday.

Like much of the western region, the southwest corner of Newfoundland was hammered with high winds and snow squalls that made getting around town difficult, let alone venturing out onto the Trans-Canada Highway either Saturday or Sunday.

On Monday, they were still waiting out the weather at St. Christopher’s Hotel and anticipating spending another night there.

“The decision was pretty much made for us,” Pike said of the weather conditions Monday. “There was no way we were going to be going through The Wreckhouse (an area of the Codroy Valley infamous for its unusually strong winds), so we just hunkered down in the hotel.”

There were more challenges than just having to wait. The hotel, along with a large chunk of southwestern Newfoundland lost power Sunday morning and it was not restored until around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

While there wasn’t much to do, but sit around and chat, Pike said the hotel did open up its conference room so the kids could go in there and play hockey with mini sticks.

Not everyone waited for the weather to clear. Pike said some of their group left Monday to try to make their way back to Corner Brook, despite advisories to stay off that stretch of highway.

“We got a text from them soon after they left, telling us to stay (in Port aux Basques) because they were pulling a car that had went off the road,” said Pike.

The hockey team wasn’t the only sports team from Corner Brook stranded in Port aux Basques.

Gord Davis was with a group of around 35 bowlers and their family members who were there for a tournament that ended Saturday afternoon.

Davis, who coaches, said some of their contingent left Saturday and luckily made it home after a perilous drive that took much longer than it should have.

He said others tried to make a go of leaving Monday morning, but ended up aborting that idea not long after venturing out onto the highway and returned to the safety of the hotel where about a dozen others had remained.

By the looks of things, according to Davis, it would be Tuesday morning before the weather cleared enough so they could leave safely.

As for those who stayed, Davis said they had plenty to eat with a gas station and a coffee shop nearby. In fact, the power went out just as he and others were in the middle of a pizza at a restaurant.

Davis was less than impressed with how ready the hotel was for the power outage, though.

“This hotel is not set up for being without power,” Davis said Monday. “They had no backup plan with generators or anything like that. Nothing was being cleaned up while the power was gone either.”

He had hoped the hotel would be giving the guests a break on their bills for the unexpectedly long stay and the inconvenience of getting through a lengthy power outage, but said indications were they would still be charged full rates.

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