New Brunswick

Ice on Grand Lake raises anxiety level as high-water mark nears

Residents along Grand Lake are bracing for trouble again this year as the St. John River continues to rise.

Water, wind and ice have homeowners along the shore on edge

It appears cottages and homes at Robertson's Point will have to deal with floodwaters again this spring. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

Residents along Grand Lake are bracing for trouble again this year as the St. John River continues to rise.

Ice still on the lake could create more headaches for homeowners, many of whom haven't finished rebuilding after last year's flood.

"There's a lot of ice still in Grand Lake which is moving and is impacting infrastructure and housing on shorelines," Greg MacCallum, the director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said Wednesday.

"That will continue and of course may be compounded if there's an uptick in wind."

Environment Canada has forecast sustained winds of 20 kilometres an hour for Chipman over the next 24 hours, with gusts of up to 40 km/h.

The water level at Grand Lake, which drains through the Jemseg River into the St. John River, is expected to hit 6.7 metres on Thursday and stay relatively stable over the next five days.

Ice problems

Last year, powerful winds coupled with high water caused some of the worst damage at Robertson's Point, about 65 kilometres east of Fredericton on Grand Lake, as waves smashed windows and a few cottages were reduced to small pieces.

This year, ice is making residents wary.

Mike Daniels is one of the Robertson's Point residents possibly facing ice problems over the next few days.

His cottage was flooded last year and this year. He was living in the cottage until he finished building a new home, at a higher elevation on the point.

'If we have an ice problem and they start hitting the footings and foundations of the cottages, it could do a lot of damage,' said Robertson's Point resident Mike Daniels. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

Even with the more flood-proof location, Daniels is still worried.

"The north winds are bringing the ice in this year, which we didn't have last year,"

"If we have an ice problem, and they start hitting the footings and foundations of the cottages it could do a lot of damage."

Daniels said the flood is almost as bad as last year and worse than 2008.

Keeping busy with sandbags

The army spent time constructing sandbags for residents along Grand Lake over the past few days.

One of the people eager to take them up on the offer is Rob Thomas, a White's Cove resident.

"My wall was not built long enough, so I have to bring it around," said Thomas.

There's still plenty of ice in Grand Lake, which could be a problem, especially if the wind comes up when the water is high. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

"My house is high and dry, but I had to build a wall around the front just to protect all the property."

Thomas's neighbour Jamie Cunningham was helping Thomas load sandbags.

He said he has water in his basement but many of his neighbours have it worse.

"A lot of people are a hell of a lot worse off than I am," said Cunningham.

Jamie Cunningham was helping a neighbour on Grand Lake with sandbags on Wednesday. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

But the flood is beginning to take a toll, especially on getting sleep when waves are lapping at his door.

"My wife … it get's her worked up more than me," Cunningham said. 

"I tend to move around and try to find something to do. That's why I'm helping Robert."

With files from Catherine Harrop and Shane Fowler

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