New Brunswick

Fredericton to hit flood stage on Saturday, says province

An updated forecast from the New Brunswick government indicates some areas along the St. John River will flood sooner than expected.

Courthouse already moving operations away from river, so there won't be disruptions

A woman takes a photo of the St. John River in Fredericton on Wednesday. The province is warning residents that this year's flood could be as bad as 2018, with the St. John River expected to rise 1.6 metres above flood stage on Monday. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

An updated forecast from the New Brunswick government indicates some areas along the St. John River will flood sooner than expected.

The flood stage in Fredericton is 6.5 metres, which the river is expected to exceed by Saturday, with 6.7 metres, the figures from the Department of Environment and Local Government show.

Jemseg is also forecast to surpass flood stage Saturday.

"We're going to see significant flooding across the province," said Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

"There's no way to tell if it's going to be record-setting or not, and that shouldn't be people's concern. What people need to be focusing on is getting prepared."

Maugerville, Sheffield and Lakeville Corner are expected to join Fredericton in reaching flood stage on Sunday.

Grand Lake is expected to hit flood stage Monday, followed by Oak Point on the St. John River and Quispamsis on the Kennebecasis on Tuesday.

Northwestern areas of the province are also expected to reach flood stage over the next couple of days.

Edmundston has already surpassed flood stage at 141.59 metres. Despite the high water, no houses or other buildings are threatened yet, the city said. 

The St. John River in Saint-Hilaire and Clair is forecast to hit flood stage on Saturday, followed by Saint-François, Baker Brook, Iroquois, Saint-Anne and Saint-Léonard on Sunday.

Flooding could hit 2018 levels

Last spring, many parts of New Brunswick experienced the worst flooding they had seen in a decade.

The St. John River reached 8.31 metres in Fredericton, the highest it had been since 2008, when it hit 8.36 metres.

Water levels are expected to hit 8.1 metres in Fredericton by Monday.

What causes flooding in New Brunswick? This video explains where it all starts

How high will the St. John River rise this spring, and does the Mactaquac Dam have anything to do with it? A New Brunswick flood, explained. 1:26

Wayne Tallon, the director of Fredericton's Emergency Measures Organization, said flood waters will have an impact on getting around in Fredericton.

"When the flood stage gets up to about 7.6 metres, we lose both cloverleaves on the Westmorland Street Bridge," said Tallon.

"That has a significant impact on people being able to get from one side of the river to the next."

There are two main types of flooding that occur in New Brunswick. The CBC's Elizabeth Fraser explains the difference between them.

Ice jams and open-water are the main types of spring floods along the St. John River. 1:35

Courthouse relocating

To avoid flood damage, the Fredericton courthouse is relocating to the Hugh John Flemming Forestry Centre at 1350 Regent St.

Robert Duguay, spokesperson for the Department ofJustice, said all hearings and operations will take place there starting on Tuesday and until further notice.

Last year the basement of the court building on Queen Street was flooded, and parking behind the building was not accessible. Court had to operate out of a University of New Brunswick law building.

The 2019 flood projections according to the province of New Brunswick. (CBC)

"We felt that for this year it would be easier to take the actions in advance to make sure that we can proceed with the regular schedule next week," Duguay said.

Last year, staff had to rush to move documents from the basement, but Duguay couldn't say if any documents or property were damaged or lost.

In the next few days the basement of the courthouse will be emptied.

The forestry centre was chosen because there's ample parking and rooms available, Duguay said.

Flooding in Maugerville in 2018. The Oromocto Fire Department said it's been preparing for flooding for a while. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Jody Price, the chief of the Oromocto Fire Department, has been going door to door in flood-prone areas to raise awareness. He said the department is ready to deal with rising waters.

"We've been getting ready now for the last, you know, month or even more," Price said.

"Our communities are … fairly self-sufficient. We've got people over there that have been over there for generations and they know how to handle themselves in a flood.

Upriver, the City of Edmundston is putting crews on alert over the weekend to monitor waterways.

The city is under a rainfall warning from Environment Canada.

"River monitoring will continue over the next few days, including at various strategic points, namely the regions near the À-la-Truite, Iroquois, and Madawaska rivers, as well as the St. John River," the city said in a statement.

Warm and rainy weather expected

The upcoming weather isn't helping the flood situation either.

Environment Canada is forecasting above normal temperatures for the long weekend, with temperatures reaching 17 C on Friday and Saturday in Fredericton.

In addition, rain is forecast all weekend for much of the province. There is a rainfall warning in the northwest, where upwards of 100 mm of rain is expected.

If the river hits 7.6 metres in Fredericton, some approaches to the Westmorland Street Bridge will close, causing traffic headaches. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Jim Abraham, a meteorologist, said the rain won't all come at once, but the cumulative effect will be the problem.

"It's not going to rain all the time, but the total amount of rain combined with those mild afternoon temperatures in the teens, and mild overnight temperatures in the double digits, certainly contributing to the snowmelt," said Abraham.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton and Hadeel Ibrahim


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