04/16/2014 10:36 EDT | Updated 06/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Sussex Corner flooding leads to state of emergency

Sussex, N.B., is dealing with with the mayor is calling a “devastating” flood today linked to a river ice jam,  as emergency officials are busy rescuing people from their homes.

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) has been warning of ice jams and rising river levels for several days. The flooding comes as parts of the province are being hit by heavy rain.

Sussex Corner Mayor Steven Gillies declared a state of emergency at 10 a.m. He estimates 70 per cent of his southern New Brunswick village is now under water.

“In subdivisions in Sussex Corner, it's virtually impassable with vehicles," Gillies said. "We need boats to evacuate people and I decided right then that it was time to declare a state of emergency."

The situation is not much better in the neighbouring town of Sussex.

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne said the flood situation became severe around 5 a.m. on Wednesday and by 7:30 a.m., local officials began rescuing people.

“The situation in Sussex is very dire right now. We have not seen the water like this since I can remember,” Thorne said in an interview.

Thorne said parts of the downtown are flooded. He couldn’t estimate how much water has hit the town because all of the normal measuring points are submerged.

“We just know it is devastating. We are dealing with it the best we can right now. We have every available firefighter and everyone who works for the town out now,” he said.

“We have moved beyond property salvage and now we are into using — we have a rescue boat … we have our trucks and they are all busy now rescuing seniors and people who can’t make it out of their homes.”

Flooding in Sussex and Sussex Corner is being caused by an ice jam on the Smith Creek River near the Oldfield Road.

Communities across New Brunswick are dealing with ice jams and high water levels.

The EMO issued an advisory on Tuesday warning people who live near the province’s river systems to be prepared for flooding, which has led to schools being closed in the Sussex and Woodstock area.

The Department of Transportation is reporting roughly 30 road closures across the province.