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

As the obvious threat of flooded streets and homes fades, New Brunswickers returning to damaged property need to be aware of less obvious threats such as mould, contaminated household items that may appear clean, and smaller debris such as nails that may have washed onto the property.

For many, this is the first time their lives have been disrupted by flooding. As such, they may not be familiar with the steps to properly clean and repair their property. New Brunswickers are asked to take advantage of all resources to learn as much as possible about how to clean a home and dispose of flood-damaged items.

A new website has been created with helpful links offering homeowners and property owners advice on cleaning up their properties, safety information and details on how individuals can support recovery efforts in their local community.

Flood cleaning help

The Canadian Red Cross is offering flood cleaning kits to New Brunswickers who are able to safely re-enter their homes and begin cleanup. The free kits can be picked up at its offices at 120 MacDonald St. (Loch Lomond Place) in Saint John and 318 Maple St. in Fredericton from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., including during weekend.

There is a limit of one kit per household. The kits are self-contained in a 20-litre (five-gallon) plastic container that also serves as a bucket and lid, and is filled with useful items such as a mop, broom, squeegee, scrub brush, sponges, work gloves and latex gloves, masks, garbage bags and a bleach-based, all-purpose cleaner.

Before cleaning a home that was flooded, residents are urged to contact insurers where applicable, and to record and register all damage with Service New Brunswick online.

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.

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.

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.

Disaster financial assistance

The provincial government has launched a Disaster Financial Assistance program to help small businesses, municipalities and individuals who suffered property damage following the current freshet season.

The program provides assistance for eligible damage and losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals, municipalities and small businesses. The maximum assistance for structural repairs to private residences is $160,000, while the maximum for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations is $500,000.

The Disaster Financial Assistance program covers the same items as the federal program. The qualifying criteria as established by the federal government can be found online.

Volunteer opportunities

Many people have expressed an interest in volunteering. The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization is developing a team to facilitate and co-ordinate this and will have an update soon.

Samaritan’s Purse Canada is in New Brunswick, offering its services. People looking to volunteer their time to flood relief can contact them at 1-844-547-2663.

Team Rubicon Canada, a veteran-led disaster-relief organization, is on the ground in New Brunswick monitoring the situation and co-operating with government officials.

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.

The Armed Forces will conduct a reconnaissance mission to determine what assistance it can provide during flood recovery efforts.

Drinking water

Private water supplies may 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.

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.

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

Sandbag disposal

The Department of Environment and Local Government encourages people to dispose of sandbags via pickups or at their regional landfill.

Residents are reminded that the bags may not be emptied into or within 30 metres of any watercourse or regulated wetland. An alteration permit is required for any work within 30 metres of a watercourse or regulated wetland.

If these options are not viable, people may dispose of their sandbags as part of their flood-related debris.

People are advised to contact one of the department’s regional offices for more information if the sandbags are clearly contaminated (by oil, odour, etc.).

For any questions related to locations of remediation sites and proper disposal of flood-damaged items, contact a regional office of the Department of Environment and Local Government:

  • Bathurst Region, 506-547-2092
  • Miramichi Region, 506-778-6032
  • Moncton Region, 506-856-2374
  • Saint John Region, 506-658-2558
  • Fredericton Region, 506-444-5149
  • Grand Falls Region, 506-473-7744

Safety

The river level forecast is favourable, but people should only return to their homes when it is safe to do so. Evacuees who return sooner than safety allows are putting themselves and emergency responders at risk.

For the latest flood-related information, New Brunswickers can go to provincial and municipal government websites and follow them on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites have information regarding cleanup procedures, disposing of flood debris and arrangements for special pickups.

Despite the receding river level, New Brunswickers are reminded some communities remain above flood stage and the St. John River remains a potential threat. The current in the river is strong and the water is cold and carries 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.

With this in mind, New Brunswickers are asked to remain patient and act with consideration for their safety and the safety of others. Barricades on closed roads should be obeyed regardless of what a road may look like and personnel at the barricades should be respected.

Road closures

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure advises that Route 2 (Trans-Canada Highway) between Moncton and Fredericton is now open to traffic.

One lane of traffic in each direction has been reopened and speed limits are reduced between kilometre markers 330 and 339.

Some exit and entrance ramps will remain closed until water recedes enough for debris cleanup and inspection to occur.

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 up to date information on ramp and lane re-openings, or call 511.

Heritage concerns

There are indications that some heritage and archaeological resources may have been impacted by flooding and wave action. Once water levels recede, archaeologists and archaeological field technicians from the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture will conduct assessments of these resources.

If members of the public encounter evidence of flood damage to archaeological or heritage resources they are encouraged to contact the archaeological services branch with the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture at 506-453-2738.

Mental health

The will be more to the recovery process than rebuilding and fixing homes and businesses. The thought of the task ahead may cause stress and anxiety. This is normal.

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.