Perth-Andover is still recovering from the massive flood that devastated the northwestern village and it is now learning that its largest private employer is pulling out of the community and leaving its 65 employees out of work.

The March flood caused widespread damage in Perth-Andover and the effects continue to linger.

The Hotel-Dieu hospital is closed and sections are damaged beyond repair. Meanwhile students from Southern Victoria High have been sent to schools around the region to finish their year because of damage sustained by the high school.

Now the village will have to replace its largest private sector employer.


Dan Dionne, the chief administrative officer in Perth-Andover, said the village offered Thing5 space in the community to locate its call centre. (CBC)

Dan Dionne, the chief administrative officer for Perth-Andover, said the community learned recently that Thing5, a local call centre, will not be returning to the village.

The hotel reservation centre, which was formerly known as Virtual Agent Services, informed the village the damage done to its facility was too great for it to rebuild.

Dionne said the company turned down offers from the village to move into another location.

"The municipality had offered the entire second floor of our civic centre for a call centre. Then we offered to construct them a new building above the flood zone if they didn’t want to move back to the other one," Dionne said.

Dionne said the village is now left trying to attract another call centre to help the 65 employees who are now out of work.

"This is extremely disappointing to the local employees and to the community," he said.

Employees offered jobs in other locations

The call centre is offering employees jobs at other Thing5 locations, such as in Florenceville.

Jennifer Henson used to work at the call centre but now she’s working elsewhere. She said it will be a difficult choice for many workers.

"There is a lot of people working from there who could probably just walk to work or just have a short ride and now they have to decide if they want to travel to Bristol to work or not," she said.


Premier David Alward used a February news conference to announce government assistance to help Thing5 set up in Bathurst. (CBC)

The last five weeks have been difficult for many businesses in the flood zone in Perth-Andover.

While some businesses have managed to reopen, others are still closed in the community.

There are roughly 100 people still waiting to return to jobs they had before the flood, a significant number in a town of 1,700 people.

This is not the first time that Thing5 has faced criticism from a small New Brunswick community.

Thing5 has closed some of its call centres in communities such as Hillsborough, St-Louis-de-Kent, Neguac and Rogersville.

In March, Rogersville Mayor Pierrette Robichaud said many residents in her community were frustrated to see their call centre close, while the government helped start another call centre in Bathurst.

In February, Thing5 received a $275,000 payroll rebate and $77,000 in additional support from the New Brunswick government to open a call centre in Bathurst.