'Be prepared to evacuate': Flooding imminent along St. John River, EMO says
Not a question of if, but 'how much,' says EMO director
Residents who live along flood-prone areas of the St. John River should stay clear of the riverbanks, protect their homes, check on their neighbours and be prepared to evacuate, says New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization.
"It's not anymore a question of if we're going to see flooding, but very much a question of how much flooding are we going to see," said EMO director Greg MacCallum on Friday.
"We're asking New Brunswickers to ensure that they have everything they need to be self-sufficient for 72 hours. Be prepared to evacuate if necessary as things evolve over the next couple of days."
The province has been in contact with the federal government to get help, including military support, if required, according to a news release issued Friday evening. Meetings between EMO and members of the Canadian Armed Forces were scheduled for Friday evening.
Residents in several communities along the river should be on high alert, MacCallum said.
Fredericton and Jemseg are expected to reach the flood stage Saturday. Maugerville, Sheffield and Lakeville Corner will reach the flood stage Sunday. Edmundston has already surpassed the flood stage.
Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for northern New Brunswick. About 25 to 60 millimetres of rain is forecast by Environment Canada for Saturday. It's possible that northwestern New Brunswick could see more than 100 millimetres.
The rain and snowmelt mix increases the risk of flooding. The rainfall warnings may be extended to Fredericton and Southern York County, Oromocto and Sunbury County, if the heavy rain moves south.
It's always a good idea to check on your neighbours if you can, safely, because they may require some additional assistance.— Greg MacCallum
MacCallum advises homeowners along the river to move valuables to a higher level in the home. Sandbags are available to people who need them.
If there is a possibility water will come in contact with electricity, he advises calling NB Power at 1-800-663-6272 for an emergency disconnect.
The water currents are strong and cold, and people should avoid boating, kayaking or any water activities in the days ahead, MacCallum said.
"It's unsafe to be at the edge of the water and anyone who gets too close could potentially be swept away by the fast flowing water."
MacCallum is asking people to be "good neighbours" and look out for one another.
"If you're in a situation where your neighbourhood is impacted, it's always a good idea to check on your neighbours if you can, safely, because they may require some additional assistance."
Flood waters are expected to cause road closures, as well. MacCallum is reminding motorists it is an offence to move or drive around barricades.
Here's a list of where it's expected to flood along the St. John River over the next few days.
With files from Sarah Morin