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 continue to rise during the coming days. Anyone who has not taken necessary precautions should act now to prepare for flooding and heed voluntary evacuation warnings from local officials.

The province is already seeing unprecedented water levels in a number of areas. In some areas along the St. John River watershed, it is anticipated that water levels will exceed record levels set in 1973.

Officials at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure are closely monitoring Route 2 at Jemseg to determine if that route should be closed to traffic in both directions. As soon as a decision is made, the department will update the public and provide as much advance notice as possible. Residents can continue to get the latest updates on road conditions and closures by checking 511.

Anyone living near the river or its branches should remain on high alert, including residents who have never experienced flooding in the past. People should consider the information that is being provided by emergency officials, continue to assess their situation, determine their level of resiliency and make an informed decision about self-evacuation.

Residents in the communities of Jemseg, Gagetown, Hampstead, Belleisle, Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Oak Bay 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. Additional road closures are expected as water levels rise, and anyone concerned about being isolated should consider evacuating while it is still safe.

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. In Fredericton, water levels are relatively stable but are not expected to decrease significantly.

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.

Residents who choose to stay in their homes should not expect to receive deliveries of food, water or other supplies from emergency personnel.

Respect barricades, be patient and check on neighbours

As elevated water levels continue to impact communities, residents are reminded that it is important to follow safety measures and instructions from officials, respect barricades, and avoid dangerous situations that may put the safety of themselves and others at risk.

Residents 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, 347 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.

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.

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.

Road closures – Respect closure notices

Drivers must follow closure notices and are not permitted to move or drive around barricades. Ignoring or moving these barricades is an offence and offenders will be charged. Drivers are also asked to obey changes to speed limits. A list of the latest road closures is available online.

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

Drivers are advised to 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.

Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA)

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

Financial assistance for uninsurable losses is up to $160,000 per primary residence or non-profit and $500,000 per small business (assistance is not available for recreational properties). Assistance is not available where insurance could have been affordably purchased and people chose not to buy it. Coverage extends to repair and clean structures and replace basic necessities. Deductibles apply ($1,000 for residence and non-profit, $5,000 per business), but will be waived in case of hardship.

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

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:

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.