Flood peepers put themselves and others at risk, minister says
Bill Fraser warns drivers to watch for wildlife and to respect barricades as flooding closes more roads
As water levels along the St. John River continue to climb in southern New Brunswick, Transportation Minister Bill Fraser is warning drivers to respect barricades and road closures.
Eighty roads were impassable on Wednesday night, and the list is expected to grow until water levels peak Sunday, Fraser said.
"The greater Fredericton region and the Saint John areas are the greatest hit … we have two bridges that are closed and we have 49 roads with water over them, and four of our ferries are out of service," Fraser told Information Morning Moncton.
A full and updated list of road closures and detours across New Brunswick can be found online or by calling 511.
Avoid flooded areas
Fraser is asking people to avoid flooded areas of the province.
"If there's no need to travel into these areas, we would recommend that please, please change your schedule if at all possible," he said. "Unless it's absolutely necessary we would ask that people please alter their schedules and stay away from these areas."
Fraser said people with cottages or camps are also being asked to resist the urge to check on them if they are in flood-affected areas.
The rising waters are rising extremely quickly, and conditions can change very quickly, so these detours and these road closures — they're there for a reason.- Bill Fraser, transportation minister
"It would not be wise to do that. You need to stay clear of those areas for your own safety and for the safety of others in the area and for the safety of our first responders."
With flood levels expected to reach unprecedented heights, more closures and detours in the south are expected, according to Emergency Measures Organization spokesperson Geoffrey Downey.
"The tricky part is we don't know how many more at this point … we can't just base it on a previous year where, OK, if it hits here these roads will be closed," Downey said. "If you hit new highs, it's hard to say what roads or maybe bridges or other infrastructure will be affected by the river."
Beware of wildlife ... and barricades
Fraser also urged caution because moose and other wildlife forced to seek higher ground during the flood.
On Tuesday, Sam G. Cormier said he saw 10 moose near Jemseg.
This photo was taken by Sam G. Cormier at the Jemseg turnoff today at 7:48 a.m. "The road was closed with barriers and upon getting on the bridge I noticed 10 moose on the road... seemed to be stranded but not in danger." <a href="https://t.co/U5EWqSpkAk">pic.twitter.com/U5EWqSpkAk</a>—@CBCNB
"Because of the rising waters and the flooding they're having no place to go," Fraser said. "They're going out onto the roadways, so people have to drive with extreme caution and to really pay attention."
Drivers are also being asked to respect signs and barricades for their own safety.
"Please do not go around the signage — we've had some reports of people who have been doing that and it's not safe. It's not safe for you or for first responders, who may have to go in and rescue you."
Fraser said a highway isn't necessarily safe just because it has no water over it.
"It could have been a road that was covered in water and the road could be compromised. Before we open those roads we have to make sure that they are safe for the public."
"And again, the rising waters are rising extremely quickly, and conditions can change very quickly, so these detours and these road closures — they're there for a reason."
Fraser said the extent of the damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure won't be known until the flood waters recede and everything can be inspected, but it is "significant."
He said his government will look to Ottawa for help with the repair bills.
"I know that there's been many, many conversations with the federal government and they've offered whatever help they can provide."
Fraser said for now, safety remains the priority for residents of New Brunswick and anyone who may be travelling through the province.
"It's so important to follow the directions of EMO, follow the signage of where these road closures are, and stay clear of the areas if at all possible."