New Brunswick

Fredericton considers measures to better contend with devastating floods

More monitoring technology, better communication, and provincial help with bridge on ramps could help mitigate the impact of the next massive flood to hit Fredericton, according to members of the city's Emergency Measures Organization.

More than 450 Fredericton residents and 660 structures were affected by the 2018 spring flood

More than 800 parking spots were rendered unusable as a result of the 2018 flood. (Philip Drost/CBC)

More monitoring technology, better communication, and provincial help could mitigate the impact of the next massive spring flood to hit Fredericton, according to city staff.

Officials with the municipal emergency measures organization presented at Monday's council-in-committee meeting, highlighting recommendations that could help the city be better prepared.

"We did a lot of good things, but there's always room for improvement," said Wayne Tallon, director of Fredericton's EMO.

"I think it's inevitable that we're always going to be faced with some type of flood, some years worse than others."

More than 660 structures and 450 residents were affected by the flood that hit the city in late April.

The water caused more than 50 street closures and submerged more than 800 parking spots.

Meanwhile, the flood cost the city $1.2 million in staffing, cleanup and material. 

Floodwaters caused more than 50 road closures in the spring. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Tallon said there needs to be better communication between the city, Red Cross and the Salvation Army on where people are staying when they get displaced.

Tallon also said that technology like a drone and webcams would help keep track of water levels in different parts of the city.

The city is already looking into getting its own equipment to measure water levels, so it can provide real-time data to residents.

Provincial help

Tallon said the city needs to consider what to do about homes and neighbourhoods that are constantly getting flooded, but he said it's a problem the mayor and council should address in talks with the provincial and federal governments. 

"To build bigger systems or raise roads, and raise properties would be very very expensive. So I think really the most inexpensive way would be to relocate," said Tallon. 

Mayor Mike O'Brien said the conversation with residents and the province would begin if residents wanted to consider it.

Staff suggested council invest in a drone, saying it could help monitor water levels in the event of another major flood. (Patrick Morrell/CBC )

Coun. Bruce Grandy suggested talking to the province about raising the roads and ramps going onto the Westmorland Street Bridge to ease traffic problems during floods.

The city has raised some roads in the past to prevent flooding. O'Brien said there would be follow up on that suggestion as well.

Coun. Henri Mallet added that staff needed to do a better job of communicating in French during live updates.

The suggestions from the staff report will be added into the budget process and considered by council going forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a reporter with the CBC.

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