Ice jams and high water levels continue to be a major concern in areas of New Brunswick as the Red Cross has been registering people who have voluntarily left their homes in both eastern and western parts of the province.

An official with New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization said Saturday precautionary evacuations have begun in the eastern New Brunswick community of Notre-Dame, near Shediac.

River Watch 2014 advisory

The Red Cross has set up two reception centres for residents who need assistance:

  • Perth-Andover Middle School, 20 Nissen St.
  • Centre Communautaire de Notre-Dame in Cocagne.

Residents can also call 1-800-222-9597. If they opt to stay with friends or family, they are still encouraged to register with the Red Cross.

For more information, visit the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety's website.

EMO coordinator Mike Leblanc said water has built up more than a kilometre behind Falconer Road in Notre-Dame, and more than 50 people have been asked to leave their homes.

"At the base of the culvert … 30 feet down, it is starting to disintegrate the roadway and we’re afraid that it could fail catastrophically," Leblanc said.

In western New Brunswick, authorities in Perth-Andover report water levels dropped overnight and are expected to continue declining in the coming days.

But a remaining concern is an ice jam above the dam in Grand Falls. If that moves through and catches up to another jam below Perth-Andover, it could cause major problems in the area, said Paul Bradley, a spokesman for New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety. 

"There's lots of things going on in the province right now," he said.

The ice jam below Perth-Andover began to shift Saturday and residents in nearby Kilburn say they are encouraged by dropping water levels.

Ice jam Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska

There's a major ice jam on the Saint John River near Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska in northern New Brunswick. (Etienne Dumont/Radio-Canada)

Still, concerns persist. Jennifer Eagan says flooding in 2012 caused $450,000 in damage to Victoria Villa, the special care home she owns in Perth-Andover.

"Another flood, we’re going to be bankrupt. We can't survive another one," she said.

The 14 residents who live in the home have been relocated, she said. Most are staying with family.

Eagan said she and others in the area have urged the province to build a wall to stop spring flood waters, but that's not happened. Instead she decided in the fall to spend $50,000 to build a berm she hopes will protect her property.

"I’m still nervous about what’s up river," she said. "We won’t relax until all the ice comes down and goes through."

Officials in New Brunswick are "strongly advising" people in the Perth-Andover area to voluntarily leave their homes.

At least 30 people have left their homes and registered with the Red Cross at the Perth-Andover Middle School, although no one stayed Friday night. Red Cross spokesman Dan Bedell said the organization is prepared to open a shelter if necessary.

Saint John River

Water levels are dropping south of Perth-Andover, leaving behind big slabs of ice. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The water was also receding Saturday morning in nearby Tobique First Nation, and the main route into the community has re-opened.

Several families in the community were prepared to move out quickly. Residents have been under a voluntary evacuation order from the province.

"That's actually how we feel ... under attack," said Tina Martin, a councillor at Tobique First Nation.

A crew from Tobique is still watching and waiting to see what happens with the jam upriver from Grand Falls.

About 1,800 people live in Tobique. Martin expects about 50 people will be affected if flooding gets as bad as it did in 2012. One large family has already packed their things and is ready to move to the local school gymnasium.

Another potential trouble spot is around Doaktown, where river watchers are keeping an eye on three ice jams. If the massive ice jams come together they could cause serious flooding.

Heavy rains and warmer temperatures have led to rising water levels in several river systems across New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Melting snowpack and ice-cover has led to ice jams.

Parts of New Brunswick were already hit by flooding this week.