04/15/2014 02:10 EDT | Updated 06/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Farmer rescues calf struggling in icy flood waters

A western New Brunswick farmer waded into icy flood waters on Monday, to rescue a month-old calf that was trying to escape the rising waters.

Wayne Martin said in an interview on CBC’s Maritime Noon that he first tried to rescue the cattle from his barn in Red Bridge by bringing his tractor close to the structure that was quickly taking on more water.

When he arrived, he said the barn had six feet of water in it and the animals were trapped.

While the cattle were able to avoid the water by standing on manure, Martin said two calves — a one-month-old calf and a two-month-old calf — were too short, so they were forced to swim around constantly to stay above the water.

Martin said he then saw the youngest calf decide to leave the barn and struggle through the fast-rising water, caused by an ice jam on the Meduxnekeag River.

The calf was barely keeping its head above water when Martin realized he had to help. So he tied a rope around his waist and waded into the frigid water.

“I can’t swim. But I wanted to get that calf,” he said.

“I was wading in four and five feet of water to get the calf. It was cold, it didn’t really bother me.”

Once the calf made it to shore, others went back to rescue the remaining cows from the flooded barn.

The four remaining cows, however, refused to leave the barn until the second calf was saved.

Once they saw the calf was safe, Martin said the four cows swam out of the barn so they could find higher ground.

“The cows wouldn’t leave until the babies went first,” Martin said.

Water levels rising

The rising waters around Martin’s farm in Red Bridge are a warning to others along the province’s river systems.

Flood forecasters will have the results of a snowpack survey later this week, which will help them make predictions. How fast it melts determines how bad the flooding will be.

The last survey showed snowpack at 130 per cent the normal levels in the upper basin of the St. John River and 189 per cent in the lower basin.

Several roads across the province are already closed due to flooding.

With heavy rain in the forecast for Tuesday night, the provincial government’s Emergency Measures Organization is expecting a rise in water levels across the province.

Rainfall warnings have been issued for Charlotte, Saint John and Kings counties and there is a possibility of the warnings being extended, EMO said in an advisory.

The forecasted warm temperatures are also conducive to melting the snow pack, and the deterioration of ice covers in all regions.

Ice movement is being seen throughout the St. John River basin, not just in the tributaries, said Richard Keeley, a spokesperson for the River Watch program.[PHOTOGALLERY]

There are already reports of ice jamming in the northwest corner of the province, near Clair, he said.

"We're hoping that the next cold front will slow things down and will basically promote that slow and gradual release of accumulated water that is in the watershed," said Keeley.

"We've been lucky up to now and we're crossing our fingers that this scenario will continue."

Some people south of Moncton, in the Hillsborough area, aren't feeling so lucky with flood waters on the rise.

Access to BroadView Power Sports has been cut off, so the store is using an all-terrain vehicle to bring customers in.

"We're getting the Argo out and we're going to pick them up so we can still operate the business," said Emilie Broad, the owner.

"People's vehicles, they don't want to drive through that. It's definitely hindering the business, for sure."

Ice jams cause concern

Ice jams have formed in several areas, including:

- Nashwaak River at Taymouth.

- Canaan River at Hwy 2 and Route 112 junction.

- Hammond River between the Route 860 and Lakeside Road intersection to one kilometre above the French Village Covered bridge or Hwy 1.

- Smith Creek River near the Oldfield Road.

- Southwest Miramichi in the rural Community of Upper Miramichi at the Cache Road and downstream from the Priceville footbridge.

- Rockwell Stream, which has caused flooding at the Broad Road in Geary.

​​The ice jam on​ the Meduxnekeag River, that was causing flooding in the Belleville area, has broken up. It started moving downstream at about 4:45 p.m., CBC's Roy Gjelstad reported from the scene.

Individuals living or working in areas that are prone to flooding are urged to be on alert and to take proper precautions to safeguard their homes and possessions.

They should also have a 72-hour emergency kit on hand, officials say.