Flooding hits Fredericton and communities on St. John River
About 120 troops were deployed Sunday to help sandbag and check on the welfare of residents
Fredericton exceeded the flood stage Saturday, joined by other N.B. communities on the St. John River such as Maugerville, Jemseg, Sheffield and Lakeville Corner, meaning water is spilling over the river banks onto roads and low-lying areas.
And the water is still rising in these communities and others along the river.
The flood stage in Fredericton is 6.5 metres, which the river exceeded by Saturday afternoon. An updated forecast from the New Brunswick government indicates the water level Sunday is expected to be 7.8 metres in the city. The water level in Fredericton is expected to continue rising, peaking at 8.1 metres Monday, before falling to seven metres on Thursday.
That's not quite as high as last year, when the St. John River reached 8.31 metres in the capital.
Grand Lake is expected to reach the flood stage Monday. The St. John River in Saint Hilaire and Clair is forecast to reach the flood stage Monday as well.The Department of Environment and Local Government said it will continue to do daily updates to the five-day St. John River forecast.
Premier Blaine Higgs said there isn't any reason for the government to call a state of emergency yet.
"At this stage, we have ample resources available … there isn't any reason to go any further at this stage," Higgs said.
The flooding has caused road closures in several communities, including Route 105 in Maugerville and Saint Anne's Point Drive in Fredericton.
Thirty-five streets in Fredericton are flooded, according to Wayne Tallon, EMO director for the City of Fredericton.
Tallon said the fire department has been doing wellness checks in the lower St. Mary's and Barkers Point areas. He said they haven't received any emergency calls related to the flood. Garbage will not be collected tomorrow for those in flooded areas.
Downtown businesses are expected to reopen on Monday, but "parking will be an issue," Tallon said.
Wayne Knorr, Fredericton's communications manager, advised people to remain behind the barricades on the roads.
"They're there for your safety," Knorr said.
He said commuters travelling to work Tuesday should avoid parking in the downtown area. Knorr also cautioned people to stay away from the water.
"If people are out exploring on this Easter Sunday, please be very careful along the water's edge. That water is moving fast and it has debris and dirt in it."
Rainfall 'slightly less' than what was predicted
Jasmin Boisvert, water resources specialist with the Department of Environment and Local Government, said the amount of rainfall over the weekend was "slightly less" than what was predicted by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Boisvert said some ice jams released on Saturday morning, "causing a small surge of water to flow down the river" in the Fredericton and downriver areas.
"This is why water levels were slightly faster than what was being forecasted in the lower basin last night," he said. "In the upper basin, above Grand Falls, water level forecasts have been significantly revised due to the flushing out of ice."
Boisvert said the latest information he has indicates the upper reaches of the St. John River likely won't reach flood stage. Only three communities in the upper reaches, including Clair–Fort Kent, Saint Hilaire and Edmunston, are threatened.
He said in Fredericton, water levels are expected to remain "relatively stable" at the 8 to 8.1 metre range for the "next two days" and then start to drop.
Areas just downriver from Fredericton will see water continue to rise for another day or so, then begin to drop by mid-late week as well, Boisvert said.
Ahmed Dassouki, director of operations with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said 55 roads and bridges have been "impacted as a result of the flooding."
He said 36 of those 55 are closed or partially closed.
Troops to help with sandbagging
About 120 troops were deployed Sunday to help with flood relief efforts. The Canadian Armed Forces announced Saturday that it's deploying Joint Task Force teams to assess how they can help in parts of New Brunswick.
Lt.-Col. Sean French, commander of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment based at Gagetown, said the troops helped with sandbagging, checking on the welfare of residents and evacuating some homes.
some of the possible duties for the troops could include sandbagging, checking on the welfare of residents and evacuation support.
The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization is urging people in flood-prone areas to take precautions and prepare to evacuate.
In Fredericton, sandbags are available at the Regent Street Depot at 1581 Regent St. and the Parks & Trees Depot at 100 Two Nations Crossing. The New Brunswick government has a list of sand and sandbag locations on their website.
"The time for preparedness is now," said Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick's EMO, on Saturday. The EMO is also watching for flooding along the Restigouche River, Middle River and Tetagouche River.
Residents who want to leave their homes but have nowhere to go can contact the Red Cross at 1 800 863 6582. The Red Cross has set up a reception spot at Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne in Fredericton.