New Brunswick

Flooded business owners battle nature to save livelihoods

While homeowners continue to struggle to keep ahead of rising waters, business owners affected by the flood are trying to assess the damage, while wondering what it means for the future.

Businesses, historic buildings, among the hardest hit as flood waters continued to rise Sunday.

Cornel Ceapa carefully opens the door to the production room at Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar in Carters Point, on the Kingston Peninsula. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

While homeowners struggle to keep ahead of rising waters, business owners are trying to assess the damage, wondering what it means for the future.

At Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar in Carters Point on the Kingston Peninsula, water has surrounded the business that Cornel Ceapa spent years building.

Wading through chest-deep water, Ceapa makes his way to the harvesting room, where six inches of water covers the floor, underneath tanks full of young and old sturgeon.

All operations have ground to a halt during the flood. While it's off peak season and the amount of product in house is low, the flood has thrown a wrench in the company's future operations.

"We were supposed to start doing spawning in the hatchery in about a week or so and also to start fishing in about two weeks" said Ceapa.

While he won't know the full extent of the damage until the water recedes, Ceapa estimated the damage will be around $100,000.

Ceapa estimates the water covering his business will cost him about $100,000. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Ceapa employs seven full-time workers and usually hires 10 part-timers in the summer. Like many, he's new to dealing with floods, so he's concerned about how he will cover his losses.

"We hope we can continue because we have many people that we employ," said Ceapa, adding, "we are relatively young business and we want to make it work."

Howard Heans and his son have been travelling up and down the St. John River, trying to gather up what the floodwaters have swept out. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

In nearby Hardings Point, Howard Heans and his son have been patrolling the river by boat to retrieve what the floodwaters claimed. Several buildings at the campground he's run there since the 1960s were swept into river, some smashing against the Westfield Ferry nearby.

"[The] force of water is tremendous," Heans said from his boat. "People don't realize until they actually see what a flood can do, the power of Mother Nature and water and waves."

Most of the campground's infrastructure can be rebuilt, but the timing of the flood is less than ideal. Heans was supposed to open for the summer season on May 18, but he knows that is highly unlikely now.

"I have a contractor that's going to move in as soon as the water's down," he said.

Built around 1785, the foundation of Harding House has been damaged by wind and waves during the flood. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The flood has also damaged a piece of history on his property. Heans's family purchased the land in 1910 and with it came Hardings House. Built around 1785 by George and William Harding, who held the first land grant in the area, the historic structure has served as the campground's bar and registration building.

Heans said the wind and waves have started to erode the building's foundation.

"That never happened ever before, in any flood," he said "so that shows the increased water levels of this flood."

After the power was knocked out by a downed tree on Saturday, Happy Hollow owner Steven Marr was pleased to have power to his pumps restored. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

At another campground on the peninsula, in Long Reach, this year's outlook is far more bleak. Happy Hollow is completely under water, destroying a cottage and five camper trailers.

After fighting rising water for days, owner Steven Marr said his stress level is through the roof.

"I may not open this year," he said. "All depends on when the water goes down, we'll have to assess the devastation."

Five campers and a cottage at Happy Hollow have been destroyed, putting the entire year in jeopardy. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

While his family and friends have been able to keep the pumps going while ferrying in 2,000 sandbags,the flood is pushing his emotions to the limits, Marr said.

"You put your heart and your soul into your business" he said. "And it's an act of God, I guess."


Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.