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

Despite the forecast of slowly decreasing water levels in the coming days, residents along the Saint John River should continue to exercise caution. Several roads remain closed and cannot be used until they are cleared and reopened by officials. Drivers should continue to respect barricades.

“We want to recognize all of the volunteers who continued to provide significant support during the weekend,” said Greg MacCallum, director of NBEMO. “The community support we have seen since the start of this difficult event has been outstanding and all volunteers should be commended. I also want to thank the firefighters, police services, municipalities, Red Cross, Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and all other organizations involved for their dedication to affected New Brunswickers.”

Flood level five-day forecasts are available online for the Upper Saint John River and the lower part of the Saint John River.

Satellite imagery collected by Service New Brunswick on April 25 showed that 16,155 properties had been touched by floodwater, although not all buildings on those properties were affected. These include:

  • Properties with a house – 6,786
  • Properties with a cottage – 2,494
  • Properties with other buildings (businesses, churches, etc.) – 793
  • Land only (farm land, timber land, vacant land, etc.) – 6,082

Residents can report damages

Residents affected by flooding can report damage by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.

The Damage Report Line program allows residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage.

The New Brunswick Damage Report line is available to receive calls between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Advice concerning 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:

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has reception centres at Centre Sainte-Anne, 715 Priestman St. in Fredericton, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and at Loch Lomond Place (main entrance) at 120 McDonald St. in Saint John, open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Red Cross can provide registered households with residential flood cleanup kits at no charge. These kits of basic household cleanup items can be picked up (limit of one per eligible household) at the Saint John and Fredericton reception centres, as well as the Maugerville Community Centre at 439 Rte. 105, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

To date, 445 households (1,111 people) have registered with the Red Cross and 171 households (486 people) are being sheltered.

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 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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. Donors may call 1-800-418-1111 or visit www.redcross.ca.

Health risks associated with floodwater

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

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 sewage systems to become overwhelmed and this can lead to sewage backing up into homes or businesses.

Road safety and closures

The Trans-Canada Highway from Exit 306 (Oromocto) to Exit 423 (River Glade) remains closed. It will remain so until it is safe to reopen, the water has receded, debris has been removed and the road has been inspected.

Drivers are asked to remain patient. 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.

Barricades should be obeyed regardless of a road’s appearance. It is an offence to move or drive around barricades, and offenders will be charged.

A list of the latest road closures is available online. Just because water is no longer covering a road does not mean it is safe for travel.

Drivers should avoid roads covered by water. Water may be deeper than it appears and may conceal sinkholes or other damage and debris.

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

Railway lines

Railway lines are in use and trains may be travelling outside of their regularly scheduled times due to operations related to the flood. Everyone should keep clear of train tracks at all times. Trespassing is dangerous, illegal and can impede flood response efforts.

New Brunswickers can help

People are encouraged to continue stepping up and reaching out to help as they are able. Those who can safely do so are asked to contact neighbours to see if they need assistance. Residents can also ask their local emergency measures organization or local authorities what is needed and how they can help.

People should follow authoritative sources such as NBEMO or the provincial government on Facebook and Twitter, and share information from these sources on their social media accounts. Residents are also asked to heed the advice of local authorities including police, fire departments and local municipalities.

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 has a reconnection process to ensure residents, their neighbours and properties are safe.

Currently, 231 NB Power customers have 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.

People should never use generators, pumps or other fuel-powered equipment indoors, and should place powered equipment at least four metres from structures.

In the event of a power outage, never use carbon-based fuels such as kerosene, gas or fuel oil indoors to heat or cook.

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

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.

Well safety

People with wells that were impacted by 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. If floodwater has receded from the well, and there are no signs of chemical contamination, ensure that well water is boiled for one minute prior to consumption until water test results are returned. 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.

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.

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:

  • Avoid boating, kayaking or other water activities this time of year as currents are strong and 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.