New Brunswick

Fredericton flooding displaces 58 people - and counting

At least 58 people in the Fredericton region have been displaced by flooding, but the actual number is probably higher and expected to increase in the coming days, says the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

Homeowners and businesses urged to report and document property damage

Fredericton residents displaced by flooding can use the shelter at the Salvation Army on St. Mary's Street, and people from outlying areas can use a shelter on the UNB campus at 20 Bailey Dr. (Submitted)

At least 58 people in the Fredericton region have been displaced by flooding, but the actual number is probably higher and expected to increase in the coming days.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety says estimates on damage caused by the flooding will also likely climb — though Geoffrey Downey said it's too soon to say whether disaster financial assistance will be offered to affected homeowners and businesses.

"This is an evolving situation."

Here is the latest update on the #NBFlood2018

4 years ago
Duration 1:04
It's among the worst floods New Brunswick has seen in recent memory.

Although river levels in the capital area have been stable around eight metres, heavy rainfall is threatening to push them to 8.3 metres, rivalling the major flood of 2008.

Some communities south of the city could also "reach and exceed flood stage," including Maugerville, Sheffield and Jemseg by the St. John River, as well as Quispamsis on the Kennebecasis River, said Downey.

"I mean, this isn't over."

In the Saint John region, the water level has reached 4.2 metres and is expected to rise to at least 4.6 metres by Wednesday, according to city officials.

The extent of the damage may not be clear until the water recedes, said Downey.

But people can report flood-related damage by calling Service New Brunswick TeleServices at 1-888-298-8555 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends, or by registering online on the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization's website.

The damage assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams may be dispatched if required.

The threshold for the provincial government's disaster financial assistance program is $2.2 million.

People in communities south of Fredericton, such as Sheffield, pictured here, should remain on alert as emergency officials say river levels are expected to 'reach and exceed' the flood stage in the coming days. (Submitted by Vanessa MacKay)

As of Monday afternoon, 58 people from 26 households had registered with the Red Cross for assistance.

"An exact number on evacuations is hard, if not impossible, because this is New Brunswick, a lot of people are used to this kind of thing," said Downey.

"They've had plans in place and they self-evacuated without notifying any emergency organization."

Not all of those evacuated homes are necessarily damaged, said Downey. People may have left for fear of being cut off by flood waters.

Others may have flooded basements, but have decided to remain in their homes.

De-energize

If the water is approaching their electrical baseboards or outlets, they should call NB Power at 1-800-663-6272 to disconnect their electricity as soon as possible, urged Downey.

"Water and electricity is a dangerous combination, if not deadly," he said. "This is a job for professionals."

People should not use any flooded electrical outlets, switch boxes, fuse-breaker panels or appliances until they have been checked by NB Power or the Department of Public Safety's electrical inspectors.

Although the electrical equipment may work and appear safe, it could cause electrocution or a fire, officials warn.

If their power has been turned off, they will have to call in a local electrical inspector or licensed electrical contractor before NB Power will re-energize their home.

Similarly, heating systems — whether electrical, gas or wood — must be inspected by a qualified technician before being used.

Pump with care

Darlings Island residents waded home Monday night after flooding submerged the island community's only road to the mainland. (CBC)

People should also be cautious when pumping water out of their basements. Pumping it out too soon could cause structural damage or collapse the basement.

As a safety precaution, basement water levels should not be more than 30 centimetres (one foot) lower than the outside water level, officials advise.

Once all of the water is removed, people should ensure the building is structurally safe by checking for buckled walls or floors.

Solid wood or metal furniture can be cleaned with a household detergent, but upholstered furniture, mattresses and other contaminated belongings should be disposed of.

Water-soaked walls and insulation will need to be discarded and replaced to avoid mould and mildew, which can cause health problems.

Walls, solid floors and ceilings should be thoroughly scrubbed with detergent or soap and water while wearing protective clothing and rubber gloves.

Opening windows and doors can help with the drying process.

Contact insurance provider

Residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations should contact their insurance companies to report property damage before discarding or destroying anything, and take photographs of the damage, said Downey.

They should keep receipts for any repairs or replacement purchases for any uninsurable losses, and log the number of hours they or others put into the cleanup, he said.

"Document everything."

If a disaster assistance program is approved and established, the department will make an official announcement, he said.

Patience urged

In the meantime, Downey urged people to be patient, saying it's a difficult time for displaced residents and emergency responders alike.

We understand that this is an awful time but you know, we'll get through it. People are resilient, but we need to be patient.- Geoffrey Downey, Public Safety

"We're reaching the point now where people's patience is starting to fray a little. I think that's part of the reason, for example, why people have been ignoring barricades," he said.

"They're frustrated, they want their lives back to normal, and everyone here wants everyone's lives back to normal as well."

Anyone who needs help coping with the stress can call Tele-Care (811), the CHIMO helpline (1-800-667-5005), or the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

They can also find tips for dealing with stress in an emergency on the Department of Health's website.

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