New Brunswick

Saint John flood levels expected to stablize Tuesday

Floodwaters in the Saint John region are expected to stabilize on Tuesday before slowly receding, officials say.

Initial forecast suggested water in region would continue to rise until Tuesday

Kevin Clifford, the head of Saint John EMO, met reporters on Gault Road on Monday at 3 p.m. to provide an update on the flooding in the region and to remind people to stay away from railway tracks. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Floodwaters in the Saint John region are expected to stabilize on Tuesday before slowly receding, officials say.

The St. John River reached 5.7 metres on Monday, which Saint John EMO believes will be the peak level.

The water should continue to fluctuate around that level on Tuesday before dipping to 5.5 metres by Wednesday and down to 4.8 metres Friday, according to the provincial five-day outlook.

EMO initially expected the water would continue to rise on Tuesday before peaking at 5.8 metres.

"A sigh of (some) relief may be in sight" for residents affected by historic flooding, the city posted on Twitter around 1:30 p.m.

Flood stage for the region is 4.2 metres.

Citizens are urged to continue to exercise extreme caution as flood conditions will persist for the "foreseeable future."

The recovery will take much longer, the head of the city's Emergency Measures Organization advised on Sunday.

Russell Smith said he has considered leaving his north end home on Ragged Point Road every day because crossings like this may become impassable. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"We think recovery is going to be really long," said Kevin Clifford, who is also the city's fire chief.

The recovery could take "10 times" as long as the flooding itself, which started more than a week ago.

Avoid railway tracks

In the meantime, emergency officials are warning citizens to stay away from the New Brunswick Southern Railway line.

Some people have been observed walking the tracks in the Westfield Road area, on the city's west side.

It would be substantially tragic to get through this incident … and have something as preventable as a railway accident be the story.- Kevin Clifford, Saint John EMO

The rail line remains active, with freight trains running in and out of the area throughout the day.

"Never walk on or along railroad tracks. It poses a serious risk to public safety and that of rail operations," the city said in an advisory.

"It is not only dangerous, but also illegal."

Clifford said he understands people are just trying to get to their homes, which have been cut off by flooding.

This man, who lives on a stretch of Westfield Road that's cut off due to floodwaters on both sides, parked his truck and hoofed his way in along the railway tracks last week. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

But "it would be substantially tragic to get through this incident, through this emergency environment, and have something as preventable as a railway accident be the story.

"We're trying to get through this incident without a significant human loss."

People might think they would hear the train coming and move out of the way in time, but Clifford said some of the access paths are very narrow and don't allow enough room for a person to step aside.

They could also have headphones on or be otherwise distracted, he said.

"If they find they have to use the railway, the choices are stay home or evacuate. Using the railway as a means of getting back and forth is dangerous."