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

Residents affected by flooding are reminded to register their damages. By registering damages, residents will:

  • Receive a Disaster Financial Assistance package to determine eligibility for assistance;
  • Receive a visit from a health and safety inspection team to determine whether their home or business is safe enough for residents or owners to return to.

Health and safety inspections must be conducted in order to have power reconnected and be considered for Disaster Financial Assistance advance payments.

People may register their damages with Service New Brunswick online or by calling 1-888-298-8555.

Health and safety inspections

Today, health and safety inspection teams are assessing homes and businesses in the Fredericton, Maugerville and Grand Bay-Westfield areas that were damaged due to the flood. Health and safety teams consist of staff from the Office of the Fire Marshal, health inspectors, environment inspectors as well as electrical and structural professionals. These inspections determine whether homes or businesses are safe enough for residents or owners to stay in or to return to their homes.

On Sunday, health and safety inspections will continue in the areas of Fredericton, Maugerville and Grand Bay-Westfield, inspections will also begin in Hampton, Rothesay and Quispamsis.

Disaster Financial Assistance available

A Disaster Financial Assistance program has been launched by the provincial government to help individuals, small businesses and municipalities cope with property damage from this year’s spring freshet. This year’s program will include increased advance payments of up to $15,000 to ensure residents can return to their homes as soon as possible.

A Disaster Financial Assistance package will be mailed to those who have already registered their damages.

The deadline for homeowners, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to submit damage registrations is June 15 and the deadline for them to submit a Disaster Financial Assistance application is Aug. 30.

Additional information on the program is available online.

Sandbag disposal

Sandbags believed to be contaminated during flooding should be disposed of via garbage pickups or at a regional landfill. If people choose to make use of the sand, they are advised not to use it in playgrounds, sandboxes or other areas where there might be prolonged direct human exposure.

An alteration permit is required for any work within 30 metres of a watercourse or regulated wetland, this includes the dumping of sand.

Used sandbags that have been emptied should not be reused and can be disposed of during flood debris pickups or at landfills. Unused empty sandbags should be stored in a dry place, away from the sun and elements.

If a property owner is not able to remove the sand bags, they should contact the Department of Environment and Local Government at 1-833-824-6113 to make arrangements for their removal and disposal.

Flood recovery cleanup

As the threat of flooded streets and homes fades in many regions, New Brunswickers returning to damaged property need to be aware of less obvious threats such as mould, contaminated household items that may appear clean, and smaller debris such as nails that may have washed onto the property.

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.

The river level forecast is favourable, and water levels are continuing to recede, 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.

Flood debris pickup

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.

Crane Mountain Landfill will offer extended hours May 6-26. It will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. It will be open on Victoria Day, Monday, May 20, from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fredericton Region Solid Waste will also be open on Victoria Day from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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.

Road safety

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.

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.

Wild edible plants

As fiddlehead season approaches, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health reminds New Brunswickers to exercise caution and use their best judgement when harvesting and eating fiddleheads and other wild edible plants this year.

There have been no reported cases or illness associated with eating fully cooked fiddleheads, but eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads can lead to illness.

The number and severity of reported occurrences of sewage and chemicals entering the floodwaters is lower this year than in 2018, and there have been no reports of large scale commercial or industrial incidents of chemical contaminants entering the floodwaters. Many residents whose properties are subject to flooding were more proactive this year at securing, or removing, items such as oil tanks and other chemicals prior to flooding.

While the risks are lower this year, it is important that individuals avoid consuming wild edible plants if there is evidence that the surrounding soil is contaminated by chemicals such as petroleum, or if the edible portion of a plant is directly exposed to floodwaters.

More information about fiddleheads and food safety is available online.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has announced financial assistance for households in New Brunswick directly impacted by spring flooding. Residents may receive $600 to help meet immediate needs. Additional details will be communicated to registered evacuees starting Monday, May 6.

To receive this assistance, impacted residents need to be registered with the Red Cross so individual assessments of needs can be completed. People can register by calling 1-800-863-6582 or in-person at Canadian Red Cross reception centres at the Sainte Anne Community Centre, 715 Priestman Street in Fredericton or at Loch Lomond Place (main entrance) at 120 McDonald St. in Saint John, open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.  They can also register online at redcross.ca/GetHelp. People only need to register once per household.

To date, 549 households (1327 people) have registered with the Red Cross and 126 households (380 people) are still being sheltered.

The Red Cross can also 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.

Canadians who would like to help can make a financial donation online at redcross.ca or by calling 1-800-418-1111, or in person at any Red Cross office, or text FLOODNB to 30333 to make a $10 donation.

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.

NB Power

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

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.

River Watch information

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.