New Brunswick

Be prepared: Month's worth of rain expected in 24 hours

With almost a month's worth of rain expected to fall in southwestern New Brunswick over the next 24 hours, the Emergency Measures Organization is urging residents to be prepared for flooding and possible power outages.

Emergency Measures Organization urges residents to be self-sufficient for 72 hours

'It could be time to put the underwear in a twist'

6 years ago
Duration 1:08
Residents in New Brunswick prepare for heavy rain this weekend that will almost certainly cause flooding.

With almost a month's worth of rain expected to fall in southwestern New Brunswick over the next 24 hours, the Emergency Measures Organization is urging residents to be prepared for flooding and possible power outages.

The EMO wants to ensure people are safe and self-sufficient for at least 72 hours, director Greg MacCallum said during a River Watch news conference in Fredericton on Friday afternoon.

People living near the St. John River and tributaries should remain on alert, as water levels are already near or above flood stage in many regions, said MacCallum.

"We're going to see additional precipitation on top of already a lot of water," he said.

Environment Canada has issued a heavy rainfall warning for most of the province.

Rainfall amounts of at least 50 millimetres are forecast for most of the southern half of the province by Saturday evening. The southwest could up to 100 millimetres before the rain is expected to ease up on Sunday morning.

"We are in the preparation stage of what could be a significant event," said MacCallum.

At this point, officials aren't expecting "anywhere near" the disastrous flood levels seen in the province in previous years, he said.

But there are some steps people should take:

1. Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit

  • At least two litres of water per person per day.
  • Food that won't spoil, such as canned items and energy bars.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Crank, solar or battery-powered flashlights and radio.
  • First aid kit and medications.

2. Protect your property

Homeowners should clear drains and secure any outdoor items that could be damaged by heavy rain and wind.

Those with basements that are prone to flooding should move their belongings to higher ground.

Mark Harvey, of Maugerville outside Fredericton, took the week off to prepare for possible weekend flooding and already had some water in his basement on Friday.

But he said most people in the area are used to that and have unfinished basements to minimize any damage.

Mark Harvey said Maugerville residents are used to some flooding during the annual spring freshet, but the forecasted rainfall this weekend is 'a bit of a concern.' (CBC)

Harvey, a life-long resident, said the community always pulls together to help any newcomers cope.

"You see water come across the road and then … once it comes across and it starts filling in the backwater coming from both directions, it is quite concerning if you're not used to it," he said.

"We just, you know, keep them calm and let them know that it's coming regardless and get your stuff up, get prepared, and we'll get through it."

Residents should avoid going into flooded basements where water may come into contact with electrical systems, EMO advises. If floodwater does come close to electrical systems, residents should contact NB Power.

3. Adjust driving to conditions

Driving can be treacherous during downpours, due to reduced visibility. Motorists are urged to reduce their speed and watch for animals, such as moose, that are seeking higher ground.

Standing water on roads can also be "very risky," said MacCallum. It can cause hydroplaning and may be deeper than it appears, concealing damage and debris, he said.

Fast-flowing water can be even more dangerous.

I can't overstate the importance of obeying road signs and not driving around barricades.- Greg MacCallum, EMO

Motorists should also be on the lookout for washouts along road shoulders and culverts, said MacCallum.

Some roads are closed due to high water levels, while others have reduced speeds posted.

"I can't overstate the importance of obeying road signs and not driving around barricades," said MacCallum. "They're in place for a reason and they need to be observed and obeyed."

4. Stay off the river

"This is not the time for boating," said MacCallum.

There's a lot of water, it's fast-flowing and cold, and contains debris, he said.

Going out in a kayak or canoe to take photographs is not a good idea, said MacCallum.

And while many people are preparing their boats for the season, EMO "strongly discourages" anyone from launching this weekend, he said.

5. Stay informed

"It's important that people stay informed," said MacCallum, suggesting they visit the River Watch website or follow NBEMO on Facebook and Twitter.

The government's 511 website offers up-to-date information on road conditions and closures for anyone who has to travel, he said.

Residents can report any issues related to increased water levels or flooding by calling 1-800-561-4034.

The best way to access emergency services is to call 911.

With files from Philip Drost

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