NEWS

Flood threat still hangs over New Brunswick communities

04/17/2014 07:32 EDT | Updated 06/17/2014 05:59 EDT
Several New Brunswick communities are cleaning up a day after their homes and businesses were flooded, as high waters continue to threaten other areas along the province’s river system.

Richard Keeley, an official with the province’s Emergency Measures Organization, said the flood situation across New Brunswick is relatively stable after a tense day Wednesday.

“The [ice] jams that were in place last night are still there. The levels fluctuated last night, I heard, in the river but nothing major occurred,” he said Thursday.

Several communities are still being advised about possible flooding.

​The St. John River surpassed its flood level of 6.5 metres in Fredericton on Wednesday evening. The river peaked at 7.35 metres that evening, and at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday it was at 7.29 metres, according to the city. 

A Fredericton official said in a statement the rapid rise in water levels is expected to be short-lived, but it could still have an impact on roadways and bridge ramps.

The small community of Maugerville, near Fredericton, may also hit its flood level on Thursday.

People in the northwestern community of Clair are also being warned of possible flooding due to ice movement and ice jams.

Meanwhile, the Horizon Health Network evacuated the Hotel-Dieu of Saint Joseph Hospital in Perth-Andover.

In total, 16 patients were transferred 60 kilometres away to the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville by bus and ambulance on Wednesday evening and seven patients were sent home.

“It was becoming quite clear that the hospital was going to be isolated and there was really no way out,” said Brent Roy, a spokesman with the health authority.

“There was a main road that they were keeping an eye on and that had flooded and the back-up plan was to have another back road to be used and part of that was washed out. So it became clear, they had to get them out of there.”

The health authority will have more information Thursday on how long the hospital will remain closed.

The Perth-Andover hospital was evacuated during the massive 2012 flood that hit the community. It sustained damages during the flood and had some of its services permanently moved from the facility.

Dan Dionne, chief administrative officer for Perth-Andover, said 23 homes and apartments in the village were evacuated voluntarily as a “precautionary measure.” 

After the disastrous 2010 flood, Dionne said many people are “extremely frustrated” by the rising waters, which they believe could be prevented.

“There has been no mitigation of the river or anything yet and of course people in our community feel the ice is being held up by a dam that was built in the mid-'50s and the flooding communities and so certainly it is a sore point,” Dionne said.

“But this year we go out to the other parts of the province that are certainly taking a tremendous amount of water, like Sussex for example, we know what that is like. It is certainly not a fun process and we wish them all the best.”

Sussex, Sussex Corner clean up

The hardest-hit part of the province on Wednesday was in the southern New Brunswick communities of Sussex and Sussex Corner.

Sussex Corner declared a state of emergency in the morning after 70 per cent of the village was covered by water.

The situation was just as bad in the neighbouring town of Sussex.

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne estimated between 150 and 200 homes in his town were affected by the flood. The town had to call in extra emergency resources to help rescue citizens and deal with the flood.

"We've had five fire departments come in and assist the town, the Red Cross has been there, the RCMP brought more members into town," he said.

"Between our volunteers and professional staff, we've been able to stay on top of what we need to do, which is taking care of people."

Flooding in Sussex and Sussex Corner is being caused by an ice jam on the Smith Creek River near the Oldfield Road, along with high water in the Kennebecasis River and Trout Creek.

"We knew that the last few days, with the warm winds, the rivers were at capacity, even before the rain," the Sussex mayor said.

Thorne said there were no injuries or accidents because of the flood and it will still take several days to assess the extent of the property damage in the area.

Norm Fowler was one of the town’s residents who left his home immediately when the floodwaters started rising quickly. He said he grabbed his dog and drove away while he still could make it down the road.

"I left just as soon as it started to come in the door," Fowler said.

"I said the hell with 'er, never locked the door or nothing."

Flooding near Sussex caused an 87-year-old covered bridge to be washed away.

The Cherryvale bridge was carried down the Canaan River for roughly two hours before it was halted by an abutment for a new bridge in the area.

Moncton road closures

The flooding in southeastern New Brunswick is also causing problems.

Several roads were closed in Moncton on Wednesday and many remain that way on Thursday.

Water poured over Jonathan Avenue, one of the main entrances to Westbrook Circle.

The City of Moncton is asking people not to drive through any water covered roads and to report any new flooding.

Some homeowners were busy pumping water out of their basements on Wednesday.

Lisa Cormier said the water came close to her shed but her basement remained dry.

She said this is one of the worst floods she has seen in her Moncton subdivision in years.

“Before it was over that road a little bit but … this is like a river this is not even a brook any more,” she said.

“It's not even a brook it's wide as a road you know I lived here 40 years."

MORE:cbcNews