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

Water levels are continuing to recede, and have dropped below flood stage in many areas. Most regions are forecast to fall below flood level by Thursday. Only in the Jemseg area will water levels remain just above flood stage for the rest of the week.

As residents affected by flooding prepare to return to their properties, they are encouraged to take advantage of all available resources, familiarize themselves with the proper methods to clean and repair their homes, and learn how to properly dispose of flood-damaged items.

Currently, 47 roads are still closed due to flooding. Many roads have been covered by a significant amount of water for an extended period of time. 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. New Brunswickers are asked to remain patient and continue to respect barricades.

Flood recovery

A website is now available 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.

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.

Debris pick-up in unincorporated areas

Special pickups are being arranged in local service districts, and residents will be advised of the details in the coming days.

Waste being accepted during these pickups includes: appliances (remove doors and covers for safety), furniture, carpeting, insulation, paper products, etc. Small loose items should be bagged or boxed. Furniture may be included with bagged garbage. Construction and demolition materials (wood, concrete blocks, etc.) should be placed in a separate pile. Large appliances should also be in a separate pile.

People wishing to independently dispose of non-hazardous items may take them to the following locations at no charge: Crane Mountain landfill, Fredericton Region Solid Waste and the Regional Service Commission 8 transfer station.

Regular household hazardous waste generated by the flood can also be taken at these facilities. People should check each facility’s hours of operation, the schedule for household hazardous waste days and inform staff at the gate that they are disposing of flood-damaged items.

People should not burn their debris, as this can cause negative environmental impacts. Illegal dumping is also prohibited and offenders are subject to fines.

Canadian Armed Forces

The Canadian Armed Forces, in support of Public Safety Canada, has deployed about 60 members to assist the provincial government with flood cleanup following a request for federal assistance.

Elements of 4th Engineer Support Regiment from 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown were deployed on Friday to support provincial authorities. This will enable those authorities to complete assessments and prioritize further relief work and repairs.

Volunteer opportunities

Samaritan’s Purse Canada is in New Brunswick, offering its services to assist with cleanup. 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.

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, 738 households consisting of 1,688 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.

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. More information is available online.

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.

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:

  • Saint John Region, 506-658-2558
  • Fredericton Region, 506-444-5149

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.

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.