Perth-Andover recovering from flood

Residents and businesses in Perth-Andover are busy trying to restore vital services after a massive flood swept through the northwestern village.

Temporary medical clinic, post office established

Residents and businesses in Perth-Andover are busy trying to restore vital services after a massive flood swept through the northwestern village last week.

The record flood caused the village of 1,770 people to evacuate about one-third of the community on Friday. The flood level was roughly 1.5 metres higher than the last major flood in 1987.

Efforts are being made to have the Hôtel-Dieu Saint Joseph Hospital operational quickly.

"Our priority is to temporarily relocate as many services as possible in a timely manner," Donald J. Peters, President and CEO of Horizon Health Network said in a news release.

Temporary arrangements for healthcare services:

Emergency services can be accessed by calling 911 or by going to the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville or Grand Falls General Hospital.

Beginning Monday, diagnostic imaging will be transferred to the Upper River Hospital. Patients will be contacted with their appointment.

Plans are being finalized to develop a clinic for blood work and ECGs in Perth-Andover.

Patients who have a physician’s order for blood work do so at the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville and the Tobique Valley Community Health Centre in Plaster Rock.

Therapeutic services staff have temporarily been relocated to the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville and the Tobique Valley Community Health Centre in Plaster Rock.

Clinicians will contact their patients directly to inform them of their alternate location.

Schools in the village are still closed and many village residents are working to restore importance services.

The Perth Medical Clinic, like many businesses in the community, was devastated by the flood.

Diane Giberson and about 20 staff members from the clinic are trying to establish a temporary clinic. As walls are being built around them, the staff are trying to organize any files that could be salvaged from the old clinic.

"We just went to get the charts from the clinic that we could retrieve. There weren’t very many," Giberson said.

Wendy Skinner, the office manager, said she estimates 80 per cent of the files were lost when the flood waters swept into the clinic.

"They're sitting over the clinic now swollen, and you touch one and it falls apart, so I guess it’s just a matter of starting new," she said.

Brent Goodine, a local carpenter, has been working at the clinic since Sunday. He said the pace to convert the storage building to a medical clinic has been breakneck.

"It’s been like this ever since we started this. We haven’t had a breath to ourselves hardly," he said.

Postal service restored

While staff and volunteers are busy working to get a medical clinic restored in the community, residents are finally starting to get mail service restored.

Canada Post moved to a gardening centre in the village so people could pick up their mail.

Tracy Rossignol, the village’s postmaster, said the postal service was operating just in time as people started asking about where they could find their mail.

"It makes us really busy, [customers] were calling for their cheques yesterday," she said.

Many people in the community are still counting their losses from the flood.

But Dr. Carter Kennedy said many people in the village are also thankful about what could have happened in the flood.

"We're thankful that nobody was hurt. But there's a lot of pain in this community right now," Kennedy said.

Community help

Sheena Tremblay, an elementary school teacher, and her cousin Dylan Liebe, were two of the many people who wanted to do something after the flood hit.

"People just wanted to donate and donate. So I just said 'Dylan, let's just find a spot and start it.' And it's just absolutely has blossomed," Tremblay said.

The Perth-Andover Flood Relief Committee has about 50 volunteers who serve daily lunch and supper at the legion for all the emergency workers and volunteers in the area.

They accept and distribute donations of food, water, toiletries and cleaning supplies, as well as cash donations at the Red Barn Furniture Store in Grand Falls.

The Canadian Red Cross is also collecting flood relief money.

However there will never be enough assistance to cover all the losses, according to Bill Lawlor, director of disaster relief for the N.B. Red Cross.

"We're certainly hopeful that with all of the players together who are working extremely collaboratively, we'll be able to minimize that gap so that people can bounce back as much as possible," Lawlor said.

The call asking for help was sent by village firefighters.

More than 70 firefighters in and outside the community have stepped up, helping homeowners and businesses clean up.

"We are cleaning out houses to help people get back their homes," Grand Falls Fire Chief Charlie Kavanaugh said.

"We are back again today just helping people bring stuff out of basements that are fairly heavy items," said Melissa O'Bar, with the fire department in Limestone, Maine.

"We have just been flat out we've been taking and clearing every room all the heavy debris — the washer ,dryer fridges stoves," said Kyle Hemphill, from the Debec volunteer fire department.

Perth Andover Fire Chief Phillip Walker said he is taken back by the generosity.

"Not only did they come here and work their hearts out, but they called me continually saying 'hey listen, anything you need we want to come and help,'" Walker said. 

Elementary and middle schools will reopen Friday. Due to electrical and heating damage, the Southern Victoria High School will remain closed until the end of June.

Plans are being developed to accommodate the staff and students in schools in nearby communities.