New Brunswick

September rainstorm damage will top $15M for repairs

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has come up with an estimate for how much repairs from rain and flooding, more than two months ago, on September 30 will cost.

Province releases estimate of repair bill after rains flooded culverts and washed out roads

A back road in the Kars area remains washed out two months after the rain and floods Sept. 30. (CBC)

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is estimating the repairs from rain and flooding during the Sept. 30 storm will cost more than $15 million.

More than 160 millimetres of rain fell on parts of southern and central New Brunswick during the storm. 

When people awoke, they found roads washed out or gone, flooding and damaged properties.

After the floods, 54 road sections had to be closed in the province for repairs. (CBC)
The overwhelming volume of damage required the provincial government to hire 87 private companies and contractors during the peak of the cleanup.

The department has identified more than 400 locations that were damaged.

A spokesperson said in an email that those locations could include multiple areas on the same road. Originally, 54 sections of road had to be closed and six remain that way.

Closures continue

Those continued closures remain a point of aggravation for some, especially in Kars, where a culvert on Highway 124 was swept away, leaving behind a small chasm.

There's no way I can afford thousands of dollars to fix this.- MacKenzie Smith, homeowner

A bumpy 10-minute detour on a unpaved road around the obstacle is proving to be troublesome as the weather worsens.

Deborah Boles lives on a woodlot on the north side of the closure and has to make frequent trips to Sussex for her husband's medical appointments.

"With the temperature the road is really slippery" she said.

Boles said she is hoping the culvert will be fixed before the snow flies.

Businesses are affected by the closure as well.

Aaron Law owns an egg farm not far from the detour. He says the rough dirt road has not been optimal for his weekly deliveries.

"We normally have our eggs picked up from this farm, from the grading station twice a week" says Law.

"As of now, we've gone to one day a week which is not ideal."

Law points to the special care home down the road from his farm as another business affected by the prolonged closure. But he remains confident the work will get done.

Waiting for compensation

While the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has revealed the projected cost of repairs, whether the province will step in with financial help for homeowners remains unclear.

A Department of Public Safety spokesperson said in an email that the government "has not made a decision on a possible Disaster Financial Assistance program."

MacKenzie Smith stands by the backyard chasm threatening her home. (CBC)
MacKenzie Smith is growing more impatient by the lack of a response from the province.

Her home in Springfield now neighbours a ravine caused by a culvert failure.

In the time since the storm, Smith says more of her property has eroded, causing trees to be swallowed up into the chasm.

She's worried if the problem isn't fixed before the spring thaw, it could threaten her home.

"It's very, very frustrating to know that they're more concerned about the bottom line of their bank statement as opposed to the safety of a resident around here," said Smith.

Blames lack of upkeep

She blames the provincial government for a lack of upkeep on the culvert which she says should have been fixed six years ago.

"I would blame them," she said.

"You could see that it was dented in the middle. It backed up, came across the road, and that was a waterfall right there."

Smith said she met with her MLA, Bill Oliver, who relayed a message from the provincial government that she would be on the hook for a third of the cost of repairs.

Smith said the lowest cost she has been quoted for the repairs is $25,000.

"There's no way I can afford thousands of dollars to fix this," said Smith.

"Nor do I want to when it's not my fault that it happened."

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