New Brunswick

'It's devastating': Fredericton, Grand Lake residents deal with flooding, damage

The worst of the flooding might have moved downstream to the southern half of the province, but residents are still feeling the impacts in the Fredericton region.

Strong wind gusts between 40 and 70 km/h doesn't help the flooding situation in Grand Lake

Water levels were still high in Fredericton on Saturday and residents continue to have trouble getting around due to the high number of road closures in the area. (CBC)

Adolf Solte got on the road from Lower Cambridge, N.B., at 12:45 a.m. so he could be ready to serve sausages and hamburgers to his first customer at 5:30 a.m. at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market on Saturday.

The closure of the Trans-Canada Highway on Thursday forced Solte to take a lengthy detour, passing by Sussex and Saint John and getting into Fredericton at 4 a.m. 

That's a lot longer than the 45 minutes or so it usually takes to cover a 70-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada between the two places.

"I was worried all week to get going but we decided to leave at a quarter to one [a.m.]," said Solte, of Elke's Barbecue Ltd. 

"I didn't sleep good."

When he was finished serving customers, he packed up his things and left the capital city at 1:30 p.m. and made the same long detour back home for 5 p.m.

"I look after my customers," he said. "It could happen maybe one time more [but] I hope not."

Adolf Solte of Lower Cambridge travelled 240 kilometres on Saturday morning so he could make it to market in Fredericton to serve his first customer at 5:30 a.m. (CBC)

The worst of the flooding might have moved downstream to the southern half of the province, but residents are still feeling the impacts in the Fredericton region.

Leslie Morrell, market co-ordinator with the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, said her phone rang at 3 a.m. Saturday morning.

It was the yard attendant letting her know water was flooded in and around the courtyard of the local market.

But a little water didn't stop the public from making it out to the Fredericton market early Saturday morning.

"After a while it let go and we were able to hold market this morning," she said. "But if the water had've stayed … we would've been cancelling market."

She said there were some vendors that weren't able to make it to market on Saturday because of flooding and power outages, like Specialty Blend Coffee in the Waasis area. Armadale Farm Dairy Products and Adolph's Butcher Shop from Sussex were also impacted by flooding. 

"Market is their livelihood, some of them," she said. "If you miss a market day, then that's the loss of their weekly paycheck, they're going to feel that effect."  

Wind playing a factor

Over the weekend, the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization said strong wind gusts have been travelling between 40 and 70 km/h, particularly in the Grand Lake area. 

When Dawn Burke of Grand Lake woke up on Saturday morning, she knew the strong winds and high water levels would be devastating to her home.

"Sure enough our patio doors facing Grand Lake had been broken by the waves," she said. "We had water pouring into the house ... that's what did us in was the wind."

At that time, she said there were about four inches of water throughout the main level of the house. 

"Our neighbours … their cottage was moved back at least five feet by the waves, the whole thing," she said. "It's devastating."

According to Jasmin Boisvert, a water resources specialist with the Department of Environment and Local Government, water levels are expected to reach 6.9 metres and start to decline around the fourth day in the Grand Lake region.

"That 6.9 metres might be enhanced by wind action and wave action," he said.

Grand Lake washes over a road into Robertson's Point, near Jemseg, on Thursday. Many cottages around the lake are surrounded by water. (CBC News)

Since Friday, water levels in the lower St. John River basin from Fredericton to Saint John have continued to rise, he said.

"We expect flooding to continue for at least the next five days," said Boisvert.  

In Fredericton, water levels are hovering around 8.1 metres and in Maugerville, water levels are sitting at 7.1 metres. 

Some vendors had to take lengthy detours due to flood waters. 1:04

In Jemseg, water levels are expected to rise to 6.8 metres from the current 6.6 metres. But water levels in that area are expected to decline around the fourth day, Boisvert said. 

A break from flooding

Water levels are sitting at 8.1 metres in Fredericton (CBC)

Meanwhile, Danielle Lepack headed to the market on Saturday morning to get some breakfast and take a break from all the flooding.

She came down from Halifax to help her mom deal with the family's two horses in Maugerville.

Although the family home isn't destroyed by water, their barn is a different story.

Danielle Lepack has been sleeping overnight at the Fredericton Exhibition Grounds after she was forced to move her two horses from Maugerville last week. She wants to stay there with them because the animals aren't used to high waters or being transported. (CBC)

"It's about waist deep in the barn right now," said the local horse owner.

The horses were evacuated from the barn last Saturday and are residing at the Fredericton Exhibition grounds so they're not alone. She expects to be there over the next few days.

"I've been staying there [overnight] with them so they have somebody looking after them first thing in the morning to feed them," she said.

"Get them all setup so they're not too stressed out with the move."

She said the horses aren't used to being transported like this and dealing with high water. The last time the horses were forced out of their homes like this was back in the flood of 2008.

"We had one horse that was really stressed out about getting into the trailer with the high water," she said.

More than 60 animals reside at the Exhibition Grounds right now and include everything from cows to donkeys.

"There's a few hiccups," said Morrell. "I'm hoping Mother Nature's nicer to us next week."