Fredericton residents on flood-prone street eye river levels

Residents on Fredericton’s scenic Riverside Drive are prepared for a little more

People living on Fredericton's Riverside Drive grin and bear recurring floods

Residents along Fredericton's Riverside Drive are watching the St. John River to see if it will flood again this year. (Lauren Bird/CBC)

Residents on Fredericton’s scenic Riverside Drive are prepared, once again, for a little more water to come their way. 

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 30 mm of rain and temperatures above zero in the next few days, which could cause the water level to rise.

David McKay, who has lived on the street for nearly 19 years, said most years the rising water levels are just an inconvenience.

"I move things out of my basement and it's just rock and concrete so the water doesn't really hurt it much but I tend to use it for storage down there more than I should," said McKay.

McKay uses a sump pump to get rid of the water that invades his basement. Already this year, he's had about 30 centimetres of water in his basement and expects more in the coming days.

"You can tell if it's going to come into your basement by looking at the water level in the tree line," he said.

Despite the almost annual flooding possibility, homeowners on the street, which runs along the St. John River, say it's not enough to make them leave.

Instead, every year they clean out their basements, watch the water level and take precautions as necessary. 

Bob Miller has already moved everything out of the basement of his house on Fredericton's Riverside Drive. (Lauren Bird/CBC)
Bob Miller, another Riverside Drive resident, has also cleared everything out of his basement.

"We did that last Thursday and we're just staying at a friend's place now and keeping an eye on things," he said. 

Miller has lived on the street for about 15 years and remembers 2008 as the worst flood they had seen.

"It was about two inches from coming up through the floor. You could look through the grate and see the water,” he said.

“That's the kind of thing we thought would happen this year. It hasn't happened yet so hopefully it won't but we're prepared if it does.”

He estimates there is about one metre of water in his basement now.

"It might come back up again so we're staying where we are for probably another week."

Instead of clearing out his basement, Dale Sowers, who lives across the street, filled it in. 

"When I raised the place I took the basement out and I filled it with earth so that water wouldn't come in. Now if it gets high enough I open the front window and the back and the water flows right through it," Sowers said.

The house had to be gutted after the 2008 flood so when Sowers bought it he raised it one metre to get it out of the flood zone.

"I don't like water in my house. It doesn't go well with the Gyproc [drywall] and electronics and my bed and the rest of those things,” he said.

But the inconvenience is still worth it for these homeowners along the river. 

"It's just the most perfect place to live 11 and a half months of the year,” McKay said.

“Our property is on the river side of the street and it's very private. Your nearest house other than your immediate neighbour is on Waterloo Row. So it's very quiet, it's very peaceful... I love it.”