New Brunswick

Many flood-damaged homes in Saint John still unlivable

Even with the help of volunteers, friends and family members, people trying to pick up the pieces in their flood-damaged homes say it will be a long road to recovery.

About 50 people volunteered to help with clean up efforts Sunday

The City of Saint John has been helping flood recovery by picking up damaged items. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Even with the help of volunteers, friends, and family members, people trying to pick up the pieces in their flood-damaged homes in New Brunswick are recognizing it will be a long road to recovery.

On Sunday, the City of Saint John once again encouraged people to sign up to volunteer to help people clean up the flood damage.

Volunteers were dispatched to homes such as Leonce Sonier's, near Dominion Park. He said he was happy to see the extra hands, even if they were carrying his belongings to the curb to await a trip to the landfill.

Volunteers help carry out some of Leonce Sonier’s damaged property at his home next to Dominion Park. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"Feels good," he said. "Saint John looks after their people."

He and his wife were able to return to their Randolph home last Friday. But Sonier said they've been staying in a hotel because of health concerns.

They're not the only ones facing an uncertain future thanks to contaminated water.

Down the road, Scott Price was helping remove everything from appliances to home decor from his brother's home.  Price said they have a lot of work to do even after throwing soggy belongings in the dumpster. 

Even after contaminated belongings are removed, Scott Price says his brother's family won't be able to return home. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The floodwaters managed to creep up the walls, the building isn't close to being ready to be lived in.

"It's hard to guess when they could ever come back in here right now," said Price.

With so many tough decisions over which belongings they will attempt to salvage, Price said the city has made it easier to get rid of what they can't save. Protective masks and garbage pickup made an unpleasant experience much easier, he said. 

Scott Price takes a break from helping remove everything that contaminated water touched at his brother's home on Dominion Park Road. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Darlene Young and her friends were happy to help gut a basement in the north end.

"It's in us to do it," said Young. "There's so many people out there that need our help."

By midday, city spokesperson Lisa Caissie said about 50 people had put their names forward to help. With 75 volunteers Saturday, Caissie said they had hoped for a higher turnout.

Young said the nice weather, combined with Mother's Day, likely contributed to fewer volunteers than expected.

"You don't need a big crowd to get the work done," said her friend Donna Fynn, who noted it took five of them to work through a home in just two hours.

Diane McCarthy, Donna Fynn, Daniel Leslie and Darlene Young spent their Sunday morning gutting a basement in Saint John's north end.


Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.