New Brunswick

People, animals scramble for safe ground as waters rise in Maugerville, N.B.

It's all hands on deck to keep people and farm animals safe in the area around Maugerville, N.B. The water levels may rise in the coming days.

Family members evacuate along with goats, horses

Buckeye the goat hitched a ride with the horses fleeing rising waters. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Two friends say they made the right decision to leave their homes in Maugerville and Sheffield after water levels rose overnight. They are expected to rise more in coming days. 

Cheryl Bulmer says she made the decision to leave her home early this morning. 

"It started at six a.m., I woke up to the light, and I thought I should see if the water went down, because I prayed all night last night, and I looked out my window and I couldn't see anything but water. I was surrounded. "

Friends Kathy Bridges, left and Cheryl Bulmer, were evacuated from their homes in Sheffield and Maugerville on Sunday. (Catharine Harrop/CBC)
Bulmer said she called the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, which gave her the number for the Oromocto Fire Department command post. First responders were at her door within a half-hour. 

"They came in and took my belongings that I had packed up, put a life-jacket on me, and escorted me out," Bulmer said.

"I walked through the water which was knee-deep. So it was over my boots. I had wet feet, very wet feet, but I didn't care. I was getting out of a scary situation." 

Meanwhile, her friend Kathy Bridges had also thought she was going to stay in her house but after encountering septic problems she decided to leave.

"So I talked to my neighbour, and told them if they were going to leave to let me know. So they actually sent me a message and said they were leaving and asked if they had room for me."

While her friends — a mother and two children — were evacuated by boat, Bridges jumped in the truck with the father and drove out. 

"We actually went down country, toward Jemseg. And it was very, very deep. Before we left I actually asked him if he had life-jackets, because I've lived there my whole life, and I knew there were a few really low spots. And so I was nervous."

Both women said the worst thing about the flooding is trying to prepare and not knowing what's going to happen.

"You try to prepare, like Cheryl said, we've lived there our whole life, we think we kind of know what's going to happen, but this year it came so fast, that it just caught us all off-guard," Bridges said. 

Animal safety

After floodwaters forced Ashten Anderson and his family to move their River Valley Clydesdale horses from their location on Fredericton's north side to the Fredericton Exhibition barns, they decided to leave a pregnant mare named Fancy behind as long as they could.

Ashten Anderson said they waited until they no longer could to move her horse, Fancy as it is expecting to give birth any day. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
"She's going to have a baby here, well it's supposed to be in the next week," Andersen said. "So, the stress can make it come kind of sooner so it could be anytime really. We have to check on her every few hours because she's close to having it."

But when water reached her stall on Saturday, she had to be moved.

"We didn't really want to move any of the horses out if we didn't have to, but we removed the first six out." 

Fancy is now at the Exhibition Grounds with the family's other horses, waiting to give birth to a colt. 

The family's goats, Buckeye and Roast Beef, travelled with Fancy, but get to stay in the horse trailer on Richibucto Road near Pepper Creek.

Helping hands

Meanwhile, it's all hands on deck in Maugerville to help keep houses dry and family members safe and sound. Jamie Rice of Fredericton has been helping prepare sandbags to put around her husband's aunt's home. 

"The water is where it was in 2008," said Rice. "She's right on the water's edge."

And Rice isn't the only one lending a hand to a family member. Brian MacKenzie's 92-year-old mother lives in Maugerville. 

She has Alzheimer's and MacKenzie is trying to get a boat in to get her out of her home. 

Jamie Rice fills sand bags to put around her husband's aunt's house in Maugerville, N.B., to protect it from the rising waters. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"She went through all the other ones," said MacKenzie. "She didn't want to get out. She doesn't understand what the dangers are going to be."

MacKenzie hasn't spoken to his mother, though when his brother talked to her, she seemed to be doing fine. But with water levels rising, MacKenzie wants to get her out. 

"I should've had her out Saturday, but never thought about it," he said.

Property damage

Brian MacKenzie is working on ways to get his 92-year-old mother out of her home in Maugerville. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Josh Phillips's house in Maugerville has yet to take on water, but his property has taken a hit. 

"It's got water almost to the bottom of our door. No water in the house yet, the subpump has been kicking it all out but there's definitely water everywhere," said Phillips. 

Right now everyone is getting really scared.- Lori Jones

"My greenhouse is gone, garbage bin is gone, mailbox is gone, pool is about to collapse. I'm hoping the playhouse doesn't fall down."

But Phillips said some of his neighbours have seen their cars swept aside, and he has seen debris everywhere. 

Preparing for the worst

Lori Jones lives in Oromocto but is co-owner of a sod farm called New Brunswick Quality Turf, and a cranberry bog called Sunberry Cranberry.

As the NBEMO says water levels could reach 2008 levels, she's preparing for the worst. 

"Right now, everyone is getting really scared," said Jones. 

Flood levels could go over 2008 levels, according to the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
"Typically, we're not panicked but it came up so fast, with little warning as far as the levels. They're really getting scared."

Jones has raised as much equipment as possible up out of harm's way.

"Cross your fingers, keep the sunshine out and let that water level peak and then go right back down," is her wish.

One of the things Jones really appreciates about the community is how it comes together at this time of year. 

"All neighbours are helping each other. That's always a big part of Maugerville. Everyone pitches in and helps," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a reporter with the CBC.

With files from Matthew Bingley, Catherine Harrop

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