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

While water levels in the St. John River have fallen over the last two days, New Brunswickers are urged to remain patient.

“A great number of New Brunswickers have been displaced for a long time and it is understandable they want to get home,” said the organization’s director, Greg MacCallum. “But simply because the river is lower does not mean it is safe to return home.”

Water levels remain high in several areas. The current in the St. John River is strong and the water is cold and carrying debris. The floodwater itself can also be heavily contaminated with sewage and pose health risks such as sickness and infections.

Many provincial and municipal roads have been covered by a significant amount of water for more than a week. While some of those roads may now be dry, it does not mean they are safe to use. Municipal and provincial officials must inspect closed roads, culverts and bridges before they are reopened to determine if remedial work is necessary to make them safe for motorists. Barricades should be obeyed regardless of a road’s appearance.

“Evacuees are tired and want to return to their normal routine, and everyone is working hard to make it happen, but rushing back home has the potential to make a bad situation worse,” said MacCallum.

New Brunswickers are encouraged to follow provincial and municipal governments on social media and their respective websites for information regarding cleanup procedures, disposing of flood debris and arrangements for special pickups.

Well water

If residents find sewage has backed up into their home, they should wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves if in contact with water and during cleanup. They should wash their hands with warm water and soap after removing the rubber gloves.

The Public Health website has more details about safe cleanup procedures.

Residents who rely on well water should be aware that private water supplies contaminated by flooding should not be used while the wellhead is flooded. Once floodwaters have receded, the well should be disinfected and water quality should be tested prior to use.

Private water supplies may also be affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals. If residents believe their well has been contaminated by such chemicals, they should not use the water, even if it has been boiled.

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 well safety can be found by visiting the Department of Environment and Local Government’s website.

Report issues with water

It is important that residents remain vigilant as water levels remain high, particularly in southern regions of the province, and are not forecast to decline significantly until later this week. Residents should heed the advice of officials as flooding will continue to affect a number of communities in the days ahead.

A flood level forecast can be found online. Residents can call 1-888-561-4048 for current flood levels.

Canada Post

Residents of areas where flooding has impacted Canada Post service can pick up their mail by showing their identification at the following locations:

  • Saint John: 125 Rothesay Ave.
  • Grand Bay-Westfield: 1 Woolastook Rd.
  • Norton and Hatfield Point: 223 Rte. 124, Norton
  • Fredericton: north side Jean Coutu (598 Union St.) or north side Atlantic Superstore (116 Main St.)

Plans are being put in place to repair and clean community mailboxes in flooded areas. Residents are asked to have patience as delivery will continue to be impacted until floodwaters recede and roads reopen. Canada Post is offering free mail-forwarding service to residents of southern New Brunswick affected by the flood.

Canadian Red Cross

Residents affected by flooding can get assistance by calling the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582. People who have already evacuated and did not require accommodations should still register with the Red Cross. The registry will assist the Red Cross with its support efforts.

To date, 634 households consisting of 1,464 people have registered with the Red Cross.

Donations can be made to the Canadian Red Cross to support those affected by the flood. Funds will 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 Trans-Canada Highway (Route 2) between Moncton and Fredericton remains closed in both directions. Those travelling between Moncton and Fredericton will be detoured to Route 1 through River Glade and Route 7 at Oromocto.

Route 10 between Chipman and Fredericton also remains closed. Emergency vehicles are able to access the area using a resource road, which is not open to the general public.

Drivers must follow closure notices and are not permitted to move or drive around barricades. Drivers should also avoid driving on water-covered streets, as this not only puts vehicles at risk, it also pushes water into nearby homes. Check online for the latest road closures, or call 511.

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

Federal assistance

The Canadian Coast Guard, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada continue to provide assistance where it is most needed. The provincial government continues to consult with municipal and federal officials, including the RCMP, the Coast Guard and the Armed Forces regarding relief efforts.

Update from NB Power

Residents are warned of an increased potential for forced electrical outages in some communities due to safety and security reasons.

If residents are concerned about water making contact with their electrical equipment, they are urged to 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.

Advice concerning 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:

Emergency Preparedness Week

Emergency Preparedness Week is an opportunity to encourage Canadians to take concrete actions to be better prepared to protect themselves and their families during emergencies. This year’s theme is Be Emergency Ready. Information and resources are available online.

As part of Emergency Preparedness Week, there will be a test of the emergency alert system today.

Residents will receive a text on their phones and a message on television and radio. As many New Brunswickers continue to deal with high waters, residents should be aware that this alert is only a test, and no further action is required.

Information to residents

New Brunswickers are also reminded to:

  • avoid visiting flooded areas, as it is a safety concern;
  • 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

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