FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following advisory was issued today by the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, River Watch 2019:

Water levels in Fredericton and in northern regions have begun to stabilize, but levels in southern areas will continue to rise.

Water levels in the St. John River Basin are now beyond flood stage in several areas:

·         Clair/Fort Kent and Saint-Hilaire in the northern area;

·         Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, Grand Lake, Sheffield-Lakeville Corner, Oak Point and Quispamsis-Saint John in the southern regions.

Residents in other communities along the St. John River system should remain on high alert over the coming days as water levels will continue to increase.

“While water levels in the Fredericton area are stabilizing, other regions should remain on high alert,” said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization. “We expect to see flood levels reached and surpassed in a number of additional places along the Lower St. John River in the days ahead.”

NBEMO is also closely monitoring other watercourses such as the Restigouche River, Middle River, and Tetagouche River where water levels and ice jams may impact some residences and roads in these regions.

Sandbags available

Sand and sandbags continue to be available at locations across the province for residents who require them. An updated list of locations that have sand and sandbags is available online.

Carbon monoxide and fire safety

During a flooding situation, the risk of fire or carbon monoxide exposure is greatly increased. Residents should heed the following guidelines to stay safe:

·         Never use generators, pumps, or any other fuel-powered equipment indoors.

·         Powered equipment should always be placed a minimum of four metres away from any structure.

·         In the event of a power outage or in de-energized homes, never use carbon-based fuels (kerosene, gas, fuel oil) indoors to heat or cook-these appliances generate carbon monoxide.

·         Temporary heating appliances such as propane or kerosene heaters should never be used indoors as they present a fire hazard.

·         If exposed to floodwaters, carbon-based fuel equipment should be inspected by professionals before use.

·         Residents should ensure their home is equipped with functioning battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

·         Use heating/drying equipment carefully – keep combustible material away from devices that generate heat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur quickly. Anyone who believes they have been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning should go outside immediately and then go to the nearest hospital or call 911.

Report issues with water  

Residents can report 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 five-day forecasts are available online for the Upper St. John River and the lower part of the St. John River.

Road closures

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is currently reporting 35 road closures. A list of the latest road closures is available online.

Drivers should avoid any roads covered by water, as it represents a serious safety risk. Water may be deeper than it appears and may conceal sinkholes or other damage and debris.

Drivers are also asked to obey changes to speed limits and follow closure notices. They are not permitted to move or drive around barricades. Ignoring or moving these barricades is an offence, and offenders will be charged.

Download the new NB 511 mobile application that allows users to set specific roads to receive alerts, such as road closures.

Well safety

Residents affected by flooding with wells that are currently under water should not use their well water. If well water has a persistent odour or discolouration, or if residents believe it has been affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals, it should not be used for any purpose, even if it has been boiled. More information about well water safety is available here.

Residents with concerns about the safety of their well water should contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Environment and Local Government for further information.

Watch for wildlife on roads

Drivers are urged to watch for wildlife on roads. With water rising, some animals will be seeking higher ground as their natural territories will become covered by water. The presence of wildlife on roads should be reported to local authorities.

NBEMO fully activated

The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, Area Command Centre, multiple Incident Command Posts, and Regional Operations Centres are fully activated to coordinate emergency response operations as they are required.

Canadian Armed Forces support

The Canadian Armed Forces are now involved and are conducting tasks in support of preparedness and response operations. Approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces members are deployed for these tasks.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has established a reception centre at the Centre Sainte-Anne, at 715, Priestman St., Fredericton.  Residents who are affected by flooding and do not have access to alternative accommodations (neighbours, friends or family) can contact the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582. They will provide emergency essential service as an auxiliary to the Government of New Brunswick.  The operating hours will be 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

NB Power

NBEMO is working closely with NB Power and the Department of Public Safety’s chief electrical inspector. If rising water is in contact with or is expected to come into contact with electrical facilities including receptacles, please call 1-800-663-6272 for an emergency disconnect.

Once water has receded, NB Power will have a reconnection process in place to ensure residents, their neighbours and properties are safe.

Residents should contact NB Power to disconnect power if they experience any of the following:

  • Their main electrical panel and/or meter and meter base are currently under water, or have been underwater;
  • The building may have been moved due to excessive water force or ice movement;
  • Visible damage to electrical service equipment on the exterior of a house, like the meter, meter base, service stack or conduits and grounding conductors;
  • The water height is above the level of electrical equipment or wiring devices like receptacles, baseboard heaters, furnaces, etc. This could also apply to sewage backup.

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.

Safe infant feeding

Residents should prepare in advance to safely feed infants if they live in areas that may be impacted by flooding. Prepare an emergency kit that includes:

·         At least a one-week supply of ready-to-feed formula. Small containers are better to have on hand as larger containers will require refrigeration after opening. Check the expiry date before using it;

·         Can opener;

·         Sterile bottles or a box of disposable bottle liners and the liner holders;

·         Sterile nipples to fit the bottles; and

·         Hand sanitizer

When storing infant formula, prepared bottles must be refrigerated at 4 C (40 F) and used within 24 hours. Residents who do not have power or safe water should use single serve, ready-to-feed infant formula.

Information to residents

New Brunswickers are reminded to:

  • Consider moving belongings to higher ground if their property is near a waterway or is in an area that is prone to flooding.
  • Avoid the banks of waterways as they become dangerous this time of year.
  • Avoid boating, kayaking or other water activities this time of year as currents are strong and may carry debris. As well, people should stay away from the edge of the river while walking.
  • Read helpful tips, the latest forecasts and public advisories by visiting the River Watch website, or by following the Emergency Measures Organization on Twitter and Facebook.

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 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, is available online.

The livestream of today’s media event will be available online: www.facebook.com/govnb