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

Communities in southern regions of New Brunswick should expect water levels to continue to rise in the coming days.

Anyone who has not taken the necessary precautions should act now to prepare for flooding and heed voluntary evacuation warnings from local officials, including those in at-risk areas who may not have experienced serious flooding in the past.

Residents in the areas of Maugerville, Jemseg, Grand Lake, Sheffield/Lakeville Corner, Oak Point and Quispamsis/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.

In Fredericton, water levels are forecast to continue to fluctuate over the coming days, but are not expected to decrease significantly until the end of the week.

The greatest concern at this time is in the south, however the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NBEMO) continues to monitor water levels in communities in the northern half of the province.

Residents should continue to be vigilant and avoid any activities on the water, as currents are still strong and there is a significant amount of debris in the water.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has established reception centres at Centre Sainte-Anne, 715 Priestman St. in Fredericton and at the Carleton Community Centre, 120 Market Place in Saint John.

To date, 185 households have registered with the Red Cross.

Residents who are affected by flooding and do not have access to alternative accommodations (with neighbours, friends or family) can contact the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582. It will provide emergency essential services as an auxiliary to the provincial government. The operating hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Respect barricades

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.

Given the scope of the flooding, not every barricade can be staffed by government employees or first responders. Whether or not barricades are staffed, they must be respected.

People who ignore barricades are putting themselves in danger. They are also endangering any first responders who may be called to assist them. Vehicles going through water can also move the water, causing wakes or other movement that can send water into homes and cause damage.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is reporting 74 road closures. A list of the latest closures is available online.

The My511 mobile application allows users to receive road condition and incident notifications about highway segments they select.

NB Power update

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

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

To date, 218 NB Power customers have had their services disconnected due to flooding.

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 flood, 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 at least four metres away from any structure.
  • In the event of a power outage or in homes without electricity, never use carbon-based fuels (such as kerosene, gas or 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 and 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.

Water contamination

Residents should avoid contact with floodwater if possible, as the water may contain sewage from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste, which poses health risks such as sickness and infections.

Floodwaters may cause community sewerage systems to become overwhelmed and this can lead to sewage backing up into homes or businesses.

Always wash hands with soap and clean water after cleanup activities or after handling articles contaminated by sewage, even if wearing gloves. If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use a hand sanitizer.

People should seek medical attention if they are exposed to sewage water and develop diarrhea, vomiting or fever.

Well safety

People with wells that are currently under floodwaters 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 online.

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

Food bank access

The Fredericton Food Bank and the Oromocto Food Bank are serving emergency food hampers to vulnerable populations.

The Fredericton Food Bank is unable to open because of flooded roads at their facility but they will be providing off-site food distribution on Thursday, April 25, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the parking lot at 800 St. Mary’s St. This is for regular clients and those in the community who are impacted by flooding. They can be reached by calling 506-459-7461 or info@greenervillage.org.

The Oromocto Food Bank serves the areas of Lower Lincoln, Maugerville, Gagetown and Jemseg, and is open and accessible. Emergency food hampers can be obtained by regular clients as well as by anyone in the community who needs food assistance. For assistance, call 506-357-3461 or email ofb@nb.aibn.com. Delivery can be arranged.

NBEMO fully activated

The provincial emergency operations centre, area command centre, multiple incident command posts, and regional operations centres are fully activated to co-ordinate emergency response operations as they are required.

Canadian Armed Forces support

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are conducting tasks in support of preparedness and response operations. About 240 members have been deployed.

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.

Information to residents

People 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.

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.

A livestream of today’s media event will be available online.