FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following advisory was issued today by the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, River Watch 2018:

Communities in southern regions of New Brunswick should expect water levels to reach historic highs in the coming days. Anyone who has not taken the necessary precautions should act now to prepare for flooding and heed voluntary evacuation warnings from local officials, including those in at-risk areas who have never experienced flooding in the past.

Residents in the communities of Jemseg, Gagetown, Hampstead, Belleisle, Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Oak Point and Saint John, as well as smaller communities in these respective regions, should take all necessary precautions. This includes protecting homes and belongings by moving items out of basements to higher ground.

In Fredericton, water levels are forecast to continue to fluctuate over the coming days, but are not expected to decrease significantly.

The greatest concern at this time is in the south, however the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization continues to monitor water levels in communities in the northern half of the province.

Marine operations

The Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are now assisting the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization to ensure people isolated by flooding remain safe, and to assist in waterborne evacuations where required.

Six DFO rescue boats and one Coast Guard patrol craft have been deployed in the Grand Lake area, and one Coast Guard patrol craft will be deployed in the lower St. John River. A Transport Canada Dash 8 aircraft will conduct surveillance over the Grand Lake watershed.

The first priority of this operation is to provide emergency evacuations for people who require medical care, and evacuations of residents who are unable to safely do so on their own. Boats will also be present to provide security and patrol impacted areas.

Subject to availability and lack of higher-priority missions, support will be provided to people to keep them safe and secure in their homes. This may include transportation to resupply groceries, gasoline, pre-scheduled non-urgent appointments or other necessities. Return transit is subject to availability and safety.

The Emergency Measures Organization and local emergency responders also have a variety of vessels available in the flood zone to support local relief and rescue efforts. This is in addition to vessels being made available by private sector companies such as Cooke Aquaculture.

Potential evacuees should call Red Cross

Residents in regions prone to flooding should consider evacuation, with the assistance of the Canadian Red Cross. Residents can begin to make arrangements by calling 1-800-863-6582. People who do not require accommodations are still asked to register with the Red Cross.

To date, 273 households consisting of 671 people have registered with the Red Cross.

The Canadian Red Cross has announced an appeal for donations to support those affected by the flood in New Brunswick, to be used for immediate and ongoing relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency and preparedness. Anyone interested in donating can call 1-800-418-1111 or visit www.redcross.ca.

Road closures

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has closed Route 2, the Trans-Canada Highway, between Moncton and Fredericton in both directions. Those travelling between Moncton and Fredericton will be detoured to Route 1 through River Glade and Route 7 at Oromocto.

The public is asked to respect the barricades and check online for the latest road closures. Drive with caution in areas where water is over the road. Residents can continue to get the latest updates on road conditions and closures by checking 511.

Drivers must follow closure notices and are not permitted to move or drive around barricades.

Drivers are urged to watch for wildlife on roads. The presence of wildlife on roads should be reported to local authorities.

Additional road closures are expected as water levels rise, and anyone concerned about being isolated should consider evacuating while it is still safe.

Sandbags available at various locations

Sandbags are available at locations across the province for residents who require them. The Emergency Measures Organization has, so far, arranged for the distribution of about 100 metric tonnes of sand and over 306,000 sand bags. This does not include many private and corporate donations or purchases by cities and other municipalities.

For a full, updated list of locations that have sandbags available, call the Emergency Measures Organization at 1-800-561-4034.

People affected by flooding are asked to be patient over the days ahead as officials continue to monitor the situation and manage response operations. Residents are asked to check on neighbours who may require assistance.

Update from NB Power

Residents are warned that there is an increased potential for forced electricity outages in some communities for safety and security reasons. To date, 588 NB Power customers have had their services disconnected due to flooding.

If residents are concerned about water encroaching on their property, they can contact NB Power at 1-800-663-6272.

NB Power officials are managing water levels at the Mactaquac headpond. These levels have been lowered intentionally to allow for the passage of natural river flow.

Report issues with water

Residents can report any issues related to increased water levels or flooding at any time by calling 1-800-561-4034. In case of emergency, call 911.

For recorded River Watch water levels, people may call 1-888-561-4048.

Flood level two-day forecasts are available online for the Upper St. John River and the lower part of the St. John River. Five day forecasts are also available online for the lower St. John River.

Disaster Financial Assistance

The provincial government has announced a Disaster Financial Assistance Program for damage caused by the 2018 spring freshet to cover losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals and communities. The program is available to anyone with uninsurable losses and is intended to help communities and residents get back on their feet after a disaster. If a property owner made an effort to buy insurance and found it unavailable or unaffordable, they will still be eligible.

Residents can report damages related to the current spring freshet by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering damages online.

Free well-water testing

The provincial government is providing free testing for water from private wells that have been directly affected by recent flooding. Beginning May 17, water sampling kits will be available at Service New Brunswick Centres for owners of private wells. Residents must wait 10 days after water has receded from the well area before beginning the chlorination and sampling process.

More information regarding chlorinating and flushing wells can be found by visiting the Department of Environment and Local Government’s website.

Advice for flooded basements

People are advised to be cautious when pumping water out of their basements. Pumping it out too soon could cause structural damage or collapse the basement. As a safety precaution, basement water levels should not be more than 30 centimetres (one foot) lower than the outside water level.

The following links provide information useful to residents impacted by flooding:

Tips for dealing with stress in an emergency

It is normal for residents to feel anxious about their own safety during an emergency situation, even if they are not directly affected. People react in different ways to stressful events. It is important for residents experiencing stress to talk about their feelings of sorrow, anger and other strong emotions.

If in crisis, there are several 24-hour emergency numbers that are available to help, including CHIMO helpline (1-800-667-5005); Tele-Care (811); and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). More information and resources are available online.

Information to residents

New Brunswickers are also reminded to:

  • avoid boating, kayaking or other water activities this time of year as currents are strong. Large quantities of debris and ice have been reported coming down the St. John River, increasing safety concerns for watercraft;
  • avoid the banks of waterways as they are extremely dangerous at this time of year; and

The River Watch program is a joint effort involving the Department of Environment and Local Government, the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization of the Department of Justice and Public Safety and NB Power. Other partners include watershed groups, and federal, provincial and state agencies involved in monitoring and forecasting the water flow in the province's rivers and streams.

Updates on information related to the potential for flooding or ice jams, including 24/7 emergency updates, are available online.