Chipman N.B. floodwaters threaten road access, displace residents
Access is becoming an issue in village north of Grand Lake
Rivers were once instrumental to a timber mill operation, but that's no longer the case in Chipman N.B.
The Grand Lake Timber Sawmill is surrounded by floodwaters and berms are in place to protect expensive equipment. The water rises above the knee as workers wade through the yard.
It's one of many distressing sights in the small village sitting on the Salmon River at the mouth of Grand Lake, and the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
On Friday, water levels in the Grand Lake area reached 6.6 metres, or 1.6 metres above flood stage. The river was expected to continue rising through the weekend, peaking at 6.9 metres on Monday and holding to mid-week.
The highest previously recorded mark was 6.45 metres in 1973.
The flooding has wreaked havoc in coastal communities throughout the area, especially in water-adjacent cottage country.
Robert Wheaton and Penny Miller, owners of the Bear's Den diner, are living at a friend's house after they fled their flooded mobile home through a bedroom window.
"We had a fellow out there that night who was telling people they were going to close that road," Miller said, explaining that a friend backed his truck up to their home.
He continued: "I convinced the dogs to get on the back of the truck, and Robert on in the truck with him, and then he went to the back of the house which was the lowest point. Grabbed his guitars, a couple laptops, a couple of baby pictures and clothes, because we knew we weren't going back that night, got in the back of the half-ton and walked out."
Co-owner Wheaton said the water has since risen even higher.
"One of our customers has taken pictures and it's come up, so it would be inside of it now. The damage is hard to say until we can get into it."
The couple said they will spend their wedding anniversary on Monday looking for a place to live.
Route 10, a section of the main highway through the village, is closed at Coal Creek just south of Chipman. Government officials said Friday they're considering closing Route 10 from Fredericton to Youngs Cove.
The Chipman Emergency Measures Organization said Friday the bridge crossing the river has been reduced to one lane and the fire department will be directing traffic.
"There's a lot more water now in this town," said volunteer firefighter Ronnie Boudreau. "The bridge is [almost] covered over there, and I just live around the corner there, and it's coming around."
With files from Catherine Harrop