Water levels in Fredericton surpass last year's and keep rising downriver
EMO says anyone who evacuated home in earlier floods should do so this time too
Floodwaters in Fredericton have surpassed 2018 levels at 8.35 metres. Last year's recorded peak was 8.31 metres.
Water levels in the capital are expected to stabilize over the next few days before starting to recede but they will keep rising farther down the St. John River.
"We're expecting that the flooding in the lower St. John River basin from Fredericton to Saint John will persist for at least the next five days," said Jasmin Boisvert, water resources specialist with the Department of Environment and Local Government.
Boisvert said water levels in the upper river basin are similar to those forecast over the weekend, but they have persisted longer than expected. This, coupled with more forecast rain, will create higher than expected water levels downriver, he said.
Power outages in Grand Lake
Residents in Grand Lake were preparing Tuesday for a repeat of last year's flooding, with the added challenge of a power outage. Five poles snapped when they were struck by ice earlier in the day.
Bob London said his house is high and dry, but the power went at 4 a.m.
"Only problem is the house is starting to get cold, and the table's empty because the powers been out," he said.
London said his sister, who lives in Sheffield, is surrounded by water.
"She said looking out her back window is just like looking out of a cruise ship, because it's nothing but water," London said.
Karen Kajari, a clerk at Hunter's Onestop in Douglas Harbour, said it took her 40 minutes to get to work because of the power outage, even though she only lives eight kilometres away. She said the inconvenience is about the same as last year's flood.
The store planned to stay open until dark, cash only, to allow people to get what they need.
"It's good to keep it open for people who do need the necessities, bread, staples to get them through," Kajari said.
NB Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau said the utility was able to locate the five broken five poles.
"We're assessing the situation," he said. "Very difficult to get to."
Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization, said people who had to evacuate their homes last year or during earlier floods should expect to do the same this year.
"If you are considering evacuating your home, you probably should," MacCallum said. "This is the time."
"If you decide to stay, there's some things you need to understand. If you need an emergency evacuation, it is impossible to say how quickly first responders will be able to reach you."
MacCallum said road closures limit first responders' access, and some evacuations have already been made by boat.
Those who stay in their homes should ensure they have all the necessary supplies to be self-sufficient for several days, and also consider the potential for power outages when making their decision.
"Preparedness doesn't just imply sandbags. It implies planning contingencies and making hard decisions."
Ahmed Dassouki of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said people should stay informed on roads impacted by flooding before they travel.
They should also use New Brunswick 511 and check online. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, there were 59 road closures in the province.
Dassouki also reminded people not to drive around or move barricades, saying the minimum fine for doing so is $172.50.
"Moving barricades can be a threat to your safety and those who will have to come after and rescue you," Dassouki said.
Red Cross ready to help evacuees
Bill Lawlor of the Canadian Red Cross said 256 people from 98 households are registered with the organization so far, but more are expected as water levels rise.
Lawlor said even evacuees who have their own plans and don't need immediate assistance from the Red Cross should register.
Emergency Measures Organization in Saint John issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents in some places along the St. John River on Monday.
- Randolph Island – those living past the Randolph Bridge.
- Westfield Road – those living between Bay Street and Grenville Lane.
- Ragged Point Road – those living past St-François de Sales Church.
- Beach Road.
- Any other isolated area along the St. John River within the city of Saint John.
Kevin Clifford, Saint John's fire chief and head of the city's Emergency Measures Organization, said about 650 people live in those isolated areas.
He's urging residents to heed the voluntary evacuation notice.
"We expect that [if] the water rises, that the amount of people that could be impacted and isolated will rise," he said.
Schools, offices closed
Widespread flooding kept some schools closed Tuesday and forced the closure of many roads.
In the Anglophone West School District, Barker's Point Elementary School, Andover Elementary School, Perth-Andover Middle School and Southern Victoria High School were closed because of flooding.
In the Sunbury West and Hoyt areas, students in kindergarten to Grade 8 could not go to their school in Fredericton Junction.
Meanwhile, the Fredericton courthouse relocated from downtown to the top of Regent Street on Tuesday, and the city set up a special transit service to discourage people from taking their cars to work. Buses are free until further notice.
As of 1PM today (April 23) Fredericton Transit will be free, until furter notice. Please consider using Transit and our Park and Ride locations, during <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FtonFlood2019?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FtonFlood2019</a>. <a href="https://t.co/aaYPERxn6n">https://t.co/aaYPERxn6n</a>—@CityFredGov
Wayne Tallon, the director of Fredericton's Emergency Measures Organization, said close to 150 homes in New Brunswick's capital are affected by the flooding.
Due to the severe flooding in Fredericton, all operations of the Fredericton courthouse are relocated to the Hugh John Flemming Forestry Centre at 1350 Regent Street, across from the Regent Mall, starting TODAY Tuesday, April 23, until further notice. <a href="https://t.co/DpZdufKWoJ">https://t.co/DpZdufKWoJ</a>—@Gov_NB
In the Fredericton area, fire crews are also performing wellness checks to homes affected by flooding. Forty-two soldiers with the Canadian Armed Forces are also helping fill sandbags in the area.
About 240 troops have been deployed to assist with flood efforts across the province.
Jody Price, the fire chief of the Oromocto Fire Department, said crews have helped 25 people leave their homes in the Maugerville and Sheffield areas.
"We have a significant event going on," he said.
"We have high water, fast-moving water around homes and over the road."
With files from Shane Fowler, Catherine Harrop