New Brunswick

Fredericton-area flood victims still in deep water during cleanup

Residents along Riverside Drive have been reluctantly piling their personal belongings onto a large pile of debris from the flood.

From scavengers to dirty basements, residents in Fredericton deal with the aftermath of this year's flood

Residents along Riverside Drive in Fredericton dump old belongings ruined by the flood, into a large pile on the side of the road. (CBC)

Residents along Riverside Drive in Fredericton have been reluctantly piling their personal belongings onto a heap of debris from the flood.

Instead of the city picking it up, scavengers have been swarming the pile, scrounging everything from old dining-room tables to pieces of steel to sell or keep for themselves.

"As fast as we could get the bags out of the house, they were going through the bags and putting them in the back of their vehicles," said Chris Clements, a resident who lives in a townhouse along Riverside Drive.

Since the weekend, he said, about 10 different vehicles filled with people have been claiming everything from tables, chairs, fire places to old movies. Some were looking for old pieces of steel to resell.

"Yesterday there was a kid about 10 years old going through the bags trying to see what he could grab," he said.

Some people look for pieces of steel in the pile of debris on Tuesday. (CBC)

The Fredericton resident said his neighbours have enough to deal with already.

"[It's] absolutely heartbreaking," he said.

"You're looking at your entire childhood, things you've put aside from family members, things that you've got to start new families and people are just picking them up as fast as you can get them out of your house."

Dealing with the aftermath

After living more than two weeks without hot water, Krystal Dawson was getting her hot-water heater replaced on Tuesday, while some people in the area have to wait until the end of the week.

Living without hot water has brought a fair share of challenges, Dawson said.

"We've had to make arrangements to go to a friend's or GoodLife to shower," she said.

"It's been a whole new thing of washing dishes when you boil the water first … just even little things like washing the flood and doing general cleaning."

Krystal Dawson has been living without hot water for more than two weeks on Fredericton's north side. (CBC)

At the flood's peak, up to three feet of water got into the Fredericton resident's basement. Since then she's been busy draining the water from her basement, cleaning and getting rid of the odour left behind by the rising water.

Most of the belongings in her basement were destroyed by the water. She, too, had to bring her belongings to the curb to be picked up by garbage collectors. 

"Pretty much my whole basement is over there," she said.

She's hopeful the province will cover some of the damage inside her home.

"I've never been through anything like this before," she said. 

Business is booming

Jonathan Wilkins is an apprentice with E.T. Mechanical Ltd., and has been replacing between five and six water heaters a day in the capital city. (CBC)

Not everyone is discouraged by this year's flood cleanup. 

Business has been booming for tradespeople across the capital city.

Jonathan Wilkins is an apprentice with E.T. Mechanical Ltd. and has been busy replacing five or six hot-water heaters a day in homes across the city.

And it's only his second day on the job.

"Water got into the tanks and the tanks are now kaput because there is electrical, and there's water going back in and contaminating the tanks," he said. 

Trade workers have been busy putting new hot water heaters into people's homes this week who were impacted by the flood. (CBC )

He expects it will be August before all the water heaters are back up and running again in the Fredericton area. 

So far, people have been grateful for Wilkins's efforts.

"People have been pretty humble," he said. "It's well appreciated."

Although he's still in training, the tradesman has already seen basements destroyed by water and debris.

"It's sad and hard to see people living like that in your area with this flood," he said. 


Elizabeth Fraser


Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip?