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

The Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton has one lane open to traffic in each direction and speed limits are reduced between kilometre markers 330 and 339. Some exit and entrance ramps will remain closed until water recedes enough for debris cleanup and inspection to occur.

Many roads have been covered by a significant amount of water for more than a week. While some may now be dry, it does not mean they are safe to travel on. Municipal and provincial officials must inspect closed roads, culverts and bridges before they are reopened to determine if work is necessary to make them safe. A list of the latest road closures is available online.

New Brunswickers are asked to remain patient and act with their safety and the safety of others in mind. Barricades on closed roads should be obeyed regardless of what a road may look like and personnel at the barricades should be respected.

As water levels continue to recede, residents are advised to exercise caution as they return to homes that may have been damaged by floodwaters.

Despite the receding river level, several communities remain above flood stage and the Saint 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.

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.

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

Canadian Armed Forces update

While Saint John River water levels are steadily receding, the situation in Ontario and Quebec remains critical. Now that the situation in New Brunswick is improving, there has been a steady decrease in the number of tasks for which the military are required.

The Canadian Armed Forces is co-ordinating, along with local and provincial governments and emergency organizations, a phased approach to re-aligning the delivery of aid while maintaining sustainable support to areas where it is required.

“We are grateful for the work that has been done by the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces over recent weeks,” said NBEMO director Greg MacCallum. “Their assistance has been instrumental in helping residents affected by this flooding event.”

Flood recovery cleanup

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.

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.

Once water recedes sufficiently, residents from affected local service districts will be provided with instructions on roadside flood debris pickup. Flood debris includes appliances (remove doors and covers for safety), furniture, carpeting, insulation, paper products, and construction debris.

Municipalities will communicate details about debris pickup within their boundaries.

Residents can now dispose of non-hazardous items at no charge at the following locations: Crane Mountain landfill, Fredericton Region Solid Waste and Regional Service Commission 8.

Regular household hazardous waste generated by the flood can also be disposed of at these facilities. People should inform staff at the gate that they are disposing of flood-damaged items.

Canadian Red Cross

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

To date, 518 households (1,262 people) have registered with the Red Cross and 141 households (410 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, visit www.redcross.ca or text FLOODNB to 30333 to make a $10 donation.

Free well-water testing

The provincial government is providing free bacterial testing of water for the owners of private wells who have been directly affected by recent flooding. Water sampling kits can be picked up at designated Service New Brunswick centres in Fredericton, Burton, Chipman, Sussex, Hampton and Saint John, at the Research and Productivity Council or through Health and Safety teams beginning May 7. Water samples will be sent to the Research and Productivity Council laboratory for testing and results will be made available to the owners of the private wells.

Flooding occurred at various locations and at different times. Owners of private wells must wait 10 days after floodwaters have receded from their well before beginning the chlorination and sampling process. More information about well 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.

Residents can report damages

Residents affected by flooding are asked to report damage as soon as possible by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.

Registering helps government officials know where help is needed;for example, where to send health and safety inspection teams, and how many teams are needed.

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.

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:

Watercourse and Wetland Alteration (WAWA)

Fees for permits will be waived for residents of local service districts who require a development and building permit, and for all residents who may require a Watercourse and Wetland Alteration (WAWA) permit for work within 30 metres of a watercourse or wetland affected by the flood. Applications for a WAWA permit can be made online.

Development and building permits are required for building, locating, relocating, demolishing, altering or replacing a building or structure in an unincorporated area. The permit will trigger an inspection to ensure that the structure is built to the National Building Code.

Development and building permit application forms are available from the Regional Service Commission responsible for the area where construction will take place. Residents of municipalities should contact their respective building permit authority.

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

NB Power crews will work closely with the province’s Technical Inspection Services to reconnect customers who had their electrical services disconnected during the flood in the weeks ahead.

NB Power fees for reconnection are waived in disaster situations.

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.

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.

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.
  • 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.