Water levels continue to rise along the St. John River outside of Fredericton

While water levels on the St. John River remain stable in Fredericton and in the Edmundston region, attention is now turning to water levels further down river says the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

The Canadian Red Cross says about 50 evacuees have registered with the agency

Skipping rocks in what is usually a parking lot along the St. John River in Fredericton. (Philip Drost/CBC)

While water levels on the St. John River remain stable in Fredericton and in the Edmundston region, attention is now turning to water levels further down river says the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

"We're going to be watching the river levels in the southern part of the province in the coming days. The river levels in the southern portion of the St. John River basin are expected to increase so we are watching them carefully," Shawn Berry, acting EMO spokesman, said. 

NBEMO director Greg MacCullum said the areas of concern include Jemseg, the Grand Lake area, Sheffield-Lakeville Corner, Oak Point, and Quispamsis.

With rain in the forecast over the next 24 hours, MacCullum said this "extends and compounds the problem" with the amount of water running through the river system. 

"The melting continues — there is still ice and snow in the north." 

The water level in Maugerville, about 16 kilometres southeast of Fredericton, is at 6.5 metres, and it is forecast to reach 6.6 metres Monday and stay at that level Tuesday. The flood level in that community is 6 metres. 

The water level is expected to rise in Maugerville to 6.6 metres. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Further down the river at Jemseg — where the flood level is 4.3 metres — the water level reached 5.27 metres Sunday. It was forecast to be 5.0 today and 5.3 on Monday but the two-day forecast now shows it going up to 5.5 metres Monday and 5.8 metres on Tuesday. 

In Grand Lake, the water level is at 5.2 metres — two metres above flood level — and is forecast to reach 5.9 metres over the next 48 hours. 

The water level in Sheffield and Lakeville Corner is forecast to reach 6.3 metres by Tuesday, up 1.5 metres from a flood level of 4.8 metres. 

Historically, the worst floods on record were in 1973 and 2008. In Fredericton, water levels reached 8.61 metres in 1973 and 8.36 metres in 2008. 

The outlying areas saw water levels reach 7.11 metres in Maugerville in 1973. Nearby Jemseg's water level was 6.36 metres and Grand Lake was at 6.45 metres. Those numbers were a bit lower in 2008 with Maugerville hitting 6.92 metres, Jemseg, 6.11 metres and Grand Lake at 6.24 metres. 

Closures 

The flooding has prompted the Anglophone West School District to cancel some schools Monday and to cancel busing in some areas. The list includes: 

  • Barker's Point Elementary School will be closed
  • Busing in the Rusagonis area will be cancelled (buses 378, 376, 345, 345, 344, 380, 385)
  • Busing in the Maugerville area will be cancelled (buses 238 and 253)
  • Busing for Connaught Street School will be cancelled (bus 201)
  • Buses 14, 15 and 17 in the Perth-Andover area will be cancelled
  • Busing for grades K to 8 students in the Hoyt and Central Blissville areas will be cancelled
  • Busing for grades 9 to 12 students in the Fredericton Junction and Tracy areas will be cancelled
  • In all other local areas impacted by flooding and road closures, buses will service up to the road closed signs/barriers. The district says if students can meet their bus at these locations, transportation will be provided. Where buses are not running, transportation will be the parent's responsibility.

Limited travel

On Saturday, the Oromocto Fire Department said due to the dangerous water conditions, it would not escort residents into the affected areas.

The Oromocto Fire Department has its command post set up in Burton. Travel into the flooded areas is limited. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
"We will continue to remove residents from their houses. Travel below the Burton bridge is limited to [vehicles] 3/4 tons or larger," it said in a release.

The fire department says travel in the areas is extremely dangerous and should be limited to essential travel only. 

Meanwhile, in Fredericton, the water level is at 8.1 metres and is expected to remain at or near that level for the next few days before it begins to recede. 

Wayne Tallon, the city's EMO director, says this will affect transportation in the downtown. He advised people to find alternate options to commute to work including making use of the free bus service with Fredericton Transit.

He asked that people avoid the Lincoln Road, Waterloo Row, Union Sreet east of Gibson, Riverside Drive, and Lower St. Mary's. He added both bridges, Westmorland Street Bridge and Princess Margaret Bridge, were still operational. 

Provincial government offices in downtown Fredericton will be closed Monday because of the constraints on parking and traffic. The offices affected are located between University Avenue to the east, Dundonald/Beaverbrook Streets to the south and Smythe Street to the west. 

Tallon warned that fines would be issued to motorists not respecting the barriers on closed streets or to those moving the barriers out of the way. 

Wayne Tallon, Fredericton's EMO director said people should avoid driving to the downtown area where a number of streets remain closed and there is limited parking available. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Berry said EMO has deployed resources in various communities across the province to assist communities needing help during the flooding. 

EMO said all evacuations so far have been voluntary. By Sunday, 24 households with 51 residents had registered with the Red Cross, and 16 households received assistance.

"That indicates that a number of people have probably sought shelter with a family and friends," Berry said.

Mark Belliveau of the Canadian Red Cross said even if a household is evacuating to to another location, people are still asked to register with the Red Cross. 

Anyone who needs to leave their home is asked to call the Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582 for help.

The Red Cross can also provide assistance to those who need to evacuate and have pets needing a place to stay.

Stay alert

Two shelters are set up in Fredericton for those displaced due to flooding and have no access to temporary accommodations. One is available at the Salvation Army on St. Mary's Street for Fredericton residents. People from outlying areas can access a shelter on the UNB campus located at 20 Bailey Drive. 

EMO warns people to remain on alert over the next 48 hours as water levels continue to rise in some areas. People are asked to call 911 if immediate help is needed.

Sixty roads in affected areas remain closed. It is anticipated that the road to Darlings Island will be closed at high tide today, EMO said. 

MacCallum said there is a here is a contingency plan in place that will be put into action if the situation on Darlings Island worsens.

EMO director Greg MacCallum said people can face fines if caught driving around or moving a barricade on a flooded street. (Philip Drost/CBC)
Find all road closures here.

Other watercourses at risk include:

  • Nashwaak River.
  • Middle River (Bathurst).
  • Tetagouche River (North Tetagouche Road).

Report damage

NBEMO advises N.B. residents can report damages related to the current spring flood by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.

"The Damage Report Line program will allow residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage with a single phone call," NBEMO said in a release.

Sandbags protect the New Brunswick Legislature in Fredericton from flooding. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
All damage assessments will be reviewed and health and safety inspection teams will be dispatched if needed. 

"Please report damage so accurate assessments can be made," MacCallum said.

NBEMO also cautions people about pumping water out of their basements. If done too soon, it could cause structural damage or collapse the basement. 

MacCallum also warned people to avoid going on the flooded river with a boat, kayak or canoe. 

"This is an inherently irresponsible act. People are taking their lives in their own hands and we highly recommend that people stay off the river system. It's full of debris, it's fast flowing, it's dangerous and we don't want to put first responders at risk." 

Alert Ready, the national emergency system that already sends alerts to television and radio, will soon be sending them to mobile phones too. 1:46