Flood threat still hangs over New Brunswick communities

Several New Brunswick communities are cleaning up a day after their homes and businesses were flooded, as high waters continue to threaten other areas along the province’s river system.

Emergency Measures Organization says flood situation is stable in province

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      Several New Brunswick communities are cleaning up a day after their homes and businesses were flooded, as high waters continue to threaten other areas along the province’s river system.

      Richard Keeley, an official with the province’s Emergency Measures Organization, said the flood situation across New Brunswick is relatively stable after a tense day Wednesday.

      “The [ice] jams that were in place last night are still there. The levels fluctuated last night, I heard, in the river but nothing major occurred,” he said Thursday.

      Several communities are still being advised about possible flooding.

      New Brunswick's St. John River was clogged with large chunks of ice near Woodstock on Wednesday. (CBC)
      ​The St. John River surpassed its flood level of 6.5 metres in Fredericton on Wednesday evening. The river peaked at 7.35 metres that evening, and at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday it was at 7.29 metres, according to the city. 

      A Fredericton official said in a statement the rapid rise in water levels is expected to be short-lived, but it could still have an impact on roadways and bridge ramps.

      The small community of Maugerville, near Fredericton, may also hit its flood level on Thursday.

      People in the northwestern community of Clair are also being warned of possible flooding due to ice movement and ice jams.

      Many people in rural areas to the south and to the north of Fredericton are being forced to take major detours due to the flooding.

      Route 8 remains closed in two places between Fredericton and McHardy Flats Brook.

      Debbie McCann lives in Hoyt and works in Fredericton. The south branch of the Oromocto River runs behind her house, and has flooded the community's access road, forcing community members to take a long way around to get to the nearest town, Fredericton Junction.

      “About a 90-kilometre detour for a normally 15-kilometre drive, which is very inconvenient because our clinic and doctor is located in Fredericton Junction, our school is located there. A lot of people get their gas in Fredericton Junction as well. So you can imagine how that affects the people in this community,” said McCann.

      McCann says this is the second time this winter that her community has flooded.

      She would like to see provincial representatives examine the situation and build up the road.

      Trapped between Memramcook, Dorchester

      Residents along Route 106, between Memramcook and Dorchester, southeast of Moncton, remained trapped Thursday.

      Both ends of the highway are flooded and the road is closed to all traffic including emergency vehicles.

      This is the second time this year that people in the area have been stranded because of flooding. Route 106 also flooded at both ends in January.

      Many neighbours have flooded basements, and everyone is helping in any way they can, said Tara Veach, whose husband can't get to work and children can't make it to school.

      “The neighbour with the tractor, he came through yesterday, we put orders in at the grocery store. He drove it through on the tractor but that's probably not going to be able to continue if the water levels rise anymore because his tractor just won't make it through. So we're all communicating with each other,” she said.

      However, she said she'd like to see better communication from the province.

      Veach said she would also like someone to come forward with a long-term plan to solve the area’s flooding problems, but in the meantime she'd like someone to step up and take charge of the situation.

      “Here's what we're going to do, and this is the time frame, and this is what you can expect in the meantime from us to get you to school, to get you to work, to make sure that if you're flooded in on both ends you're going to have diapers, and milk and baby food and cat food and whatever else you need. It seems very simple to me but it's just not happening.”

      It was becoming quite clear that the hospital was going to be isolated and there was really no way out.- Brent Roy, Horizon Health Authority

      Meanwhile, the Horizon Health Network evacuated the Hotel-Dieu of Saint Joseph Hospital in Perth-Andover.

      In total, 16 patients were transferred 60 kilometres away to the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville by bus and ambulance on Wednesday evening and seven patients were sent home.

      “It was becoming quite clear that the hospital was going to be isolated and there was really no way out,” said Brent Roy, a spokesman with the health authority.

      “There was a main road that they were keeping an eye on and that had flooded and the back-up plan was to have another back road to be used and part of that was washed out. So it became clear, they had to get them out of there.”

      The health authority will have more information Thursday on how long the hospital will remain closed.

      The Perth-Andover hospital was evacuated during the massive 2012 flood that hit the community. It sustained damages during the flood and had some of its services permanently moved from the facility.

      Dan Dionne, chief administrative officer for Perth-Andover, said 23 homes and apartments in the village were evacuated voluntarily as a “precautionary measure.” 

      After the disastrous 2010 flood, Dionne said many people are “extremely frustrated” by the rising waters, which they believe could be prevented.

      “There has been no mitigation of the river or anything yet and of course people in our community feel the ice is being held up by a dam that was built in the mid-'50s and the flooding communities and so certainly it is a sore point,” Dionne said.

      “But this year we go out to the other parts of the province that are certainly taking a tremendous amount of water, like Sussex for example, we know what that is like. It is certainly not a fun process and we wish them all the best.”

      Sussex, Sussex Corner clean up

      Water is receding in the hardest-hit part of the province — the southern communities of Sussex and Sussex Corner.

      NB Power crews are restoring electricity to areas in the region that had it turned off as a precaution during the height of Wednesday's flooding.

      Residents are clearing unsalvageable debris out of their home and putting it on their lawns for pickup.

      Sussex, N.B., residents were forced to use a canoe to get around their community after a flood hit their town on Wednesday. (CBC)
      Sussex Corner declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning after 70 per cent of the village was covered by water.

      Mayor Steven Gillies estimates water entered as many as one third of the basements in his community.

      Doug's Recreation saw a number of its RVs tossed around by the water.

      Staff had managed to move 30 units out of the way before the river rose up.

      Insurance adjusters are on the scene.

      The company is still in business with new RVs on the way.

      The situation was just as bad in the neighbouring town of Sussex, where water receded Thursday everywhere except for the Gateway Mall, according to fire Chief Harold Lowe.

      Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne estimated between 150 and 200 homes in his town were affected by the flood. The town had to call in extra emergency resources to help rescue citizens and deal with the flood.

      "We've had five fire departments come in and assist the town, the Red Cross has been there, the RCMP brought more members into town," he said.

      "Between our volunteers and professional staff, we've been able to stay on top of what we need to do, which is taking care of people."

      Flooding in Sussex and Sussex Corner was caused by an ice jam on the Smith Creek River near the Oldfield Road, along with high water in the Kennebecasis River and Trout Creek.

      "We knew that the last few days, with the warm winds, the rivers were at capacity, even before the rain," the Sussex mayor said.

      Thorne said there were no injuries or accidents because of the flood and it will still take several days to assess the extent of the property damage in the area.

      Norm Fowler was one of the town’s residents who left his home immediately when the floodwaters started rising quickly. He said he grabbed his dog and drove away while he still could make it down the road.

      "I left just as soon as it started to come in the door," Fowler said. "I said, 'The hell with 'er.' Never locked the door or nothing."

      Flooding near Sussex caused an 87-year-old covered bridge to be washed away.

      The Cherryvale bridge was carried down the Canaan River for roughly two hours before it was halted by an abutment for a new bridge in the area.

      Premier David Alward toured the area Thursday morning and met with displaced residents.

      He told CBC News it is too early to determine if provincial money will be made available to help flood victims.

      Moncton road closures

      The flooding in southeastern New Brunswick is also causing problems.

      Several roads were closed in Moncton on Wednesday and many remain that way on Thursday.

      Moncton, N.B.'s Jones Lake also flooded on Wednesday. The city had to put up barriers around some roads because of high water. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

      Water poured over Jonathan Avenue, one of the main entrances to Westbrook Circle.

      The City of Moncton is asking people not to drive through any water covered roads and to report any new flooding.

      Some homeowners were busy pumping water out of their basements on Wednesday.

      Lisa Cormier said the water came close to her shed but her basement remained dry.

      She said this is one of the worst floods she has seen in her Moncton subdivision in years.

      “Before it was over that road a little bit but … this is like a river this is not even a brook any more,” she said.

      “It's not even a brook it's wide as a road you know I lived here 40 years."

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