Property owners hurt by flood given special line to report damage

As New Brunswick continued to clean up Monday after a weekend of severe weather, the province announced a phone line residents can use to report damage.

Most power outages fixed, but minister says a lot of work ahead on roads and bridges

Hoyt, south of Fredericton, was among the areas hardest hit by flooding. (Debbie McCann/Facebook)

As New Brunswick continued to clean up Monday after a weekend of severe weather, the provincial government announced a phone line residents should use to report damage.

A mix of rain, wind and unseasonably warm temperatures knocked out power to thousands of residents and caused flooding across the province on Saturday and Sunday.

NB Power has nearly completed its restoration work, but road conditions remain perilous or impassable in parts of the province.

Ice built up along Highway 101 at Hoyt. (Catherine Harrop/CBC News)

Many New Brunswickers are now able to assess the damage left in the wake of the rain and flooding. Residents with homes or properties damaged by the weather on Friday and Saturday can report to the Damage Report Line program, the province said. 

The public can call 1-888-298-8555 or report damage online.

Free water testing

"Reporting damages to the provincial government is an important part of the provincial damage assessment and recovery process," the Department of Justice and Public Safety said.

"The Damage Report Line program will allow residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage with a single phone call.

"It will also put health and safety inspection teams into flood-affected areas to allow residents to return to their homes more quickly.

The Department of Environment and Local Government will provide free water testing to residents affected by flooding.

The province reminded residents to immediately contact insurance providers, photograph the damage, keep receipts of repairs or replacement purchases and log the amount of hours spent cleaning.

Restoring key transportation links

Where a community falls on the priority list for repairs depends on its population and whether it has other access routes. (Catherine Harrop/CBC News)

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser said some roads and bridges remained closed. 

The province is deciding its priorities for repairs based on the population of the affected areas and whether there are other ways in and out.

"We have some areas in the province where people were stranded," he said. 

He said the main goal now is to restore key transportation links, which will happen in the coming days and weeks.

"There is a significant amount of work to do," he said.

Power outages

Between 30 and 40 NB Power crews were working on power outages, which peaked at 17,500 customers over the weekend. As of 5 p.m., 78 customers were without power.

NB Power flooding and fallen trees has slowed down their work in areas.​

Areas hardest hit by the storm included the Kennebecasis Valley, Kings County and Kent County areas, where thousands of customers lost power.

Musquash dam

Meanwhile, Robert Duguay, a spokesperson for the provincial Emergency Measures Organization, said 70 residents in the Musquash area were allowed to return to their homes on Sunday evening.

They'd been ordered to leave their homes Saturday night because of fears the nearby East Branch Dam was becoming unstable. 

"It happened that the situation stayed stable and waters started to slowly decrease," Duguay said Monday morning.

High water levels forced about 100 residents in Musquash out of their homes because of concerns about a dam upstream. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Duguay said high water levels and the ice jam on the Magaguadavic River in Charlotte County were the biggest issues for EMO officials Monday.

"We're going to continue to watch any rivers with concern, like Magaguadavic and Miramichi, to make sure the ice jam won't create any more problems," he said.  

He said the cost of the damage would be assessed by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure over the next few weeks.

Stranded for 6 hours

On Saturday, Eric and Beverley Duffy took the Westfield ferry to Grand Bay-Westfield to collect heaters and gas for their Bayswater home in the Kingston Peninsula that lost power earlier in the weekend. 

The couple said they were about 100 feet (about 30 metres) from shore late Saturday afternoon, when they saw the cable break.

"I looked at my husband and said, 'We're going for a ride,'" said Beverley.

They were stranded on the ferry for six hours. 

Passengers were stranded on the Westfield ferry for about six hours on Saturday night. (Photo submitted by Beverley Duffy)

Eric Duffy said a boat tried to tow the ferry back to the landing, but it was no use because the outgoing tide hampered the effort. 

A second boat was called in and the tide eventually changed. The two boats ended up pulling the ferry onto the Grand Bay-Westfield side, where the couple took another ferry to get home. 

Passengers were able to make it back to shore shortly before midnight, the couple said.

But Eric Duffy, who typically works on ferries for the Department of Transportation, said at this time of year, the passengers could've been out on the St. John River all night.

"If the ice kept flowing like it was flowing, when the cable first broke, it would really make it hard for any boats to get to us," he said. 

The ferry is now back in service.  

Water everywhere

Hoyt's Bell Bridge sustained damage from water and ice. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Meanwhile in Hoyt, a community about 55 kilometres south of Fredericton, water made roads impassable, and the historic covered Bell Bridge suffered heavy damage from high water levels on the turbulent South Oromocto River. 

While the bridge was not swept downstream, boards were ripped out and smashed, with water flowing through the structure.

"It's very doubtful at this time that that bridge will ever see another car on it," said Brandon Luke, fire chief of the Hoyt Fire Department.

Parts of Elsipogtog First Nation near Rexton were also under water, and roads in the southeast of the province sustained damage.

More than 40 roads and highways in the province were under some sort of restriction, including many that were closed completely.

With files from Matthew Bingley and Blair Sanderson, Information Morning Fredericton


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