Think you’re having a tough winter? Give a thought to the automotive shops – along with other local businesses – in St. John’s, Nfld., that were paralyzed in January by a monster snowstorm that dumped up to 80 cm of snow in 24 hours.
Accompanying winds that peaked at 130 km/h created drifts that in many cases, buried entire houses and shops, and turned St. John’s’ main street into an impromptu ski hill.
The storm forced the entire city to essentially close down for a week, while crews attempted to make at least the major roads passable. Says Jacob, a mechanic at A+ Auto Centre, “We’re on a main road, Major’s Path, and it was completely blocked. We couldn’t even see our neighbour right next door. It was nasty!” He says it took 30 truckloads of snow just to clear the shop’s parking lot.
As luck would have it, a number of Newfoundland shop owners were nearly 3,500 km away on a beach in Antigua, enjoying Bestbuy Distributor’s annual customer trip. It was quite a shock to get home to drifts that were so deep that cars weren’t even just mounds in the driveway, but buried under a level blanket several feet above their roofs.
“I have a good crew here, so I knew everything would be okay,” says John Morris of Morris Service Station, who had been on the trip while the blizzard raged. He notes with pride that the family-owned business is 74 years old and he’s been involved for more than 43 years, so they’ve seen their share of tough Newfoundland winters. Still, this was a doozie.
“We haven’t had a winter like this in a while. Right now, one-quarter acre of our 1-acre property is taken up just with snow. The city is doing a great job, but when you get a snowstorm like this, there’s not much you can do.”
Morris points out that the storm had one positive effect. Events like this often bring out the best in people, even friendly competitors like the one across the street (who, he says, is more friend than competitor even in good weather). He says he got home to find his parking lot ploughed and things back up and running – as well as can be expected, of course. “After the storm, he came over with his front loader and just cleared the whole thing for us, without us even asking.”