New Brunswick braces for more flooding as river levels peak yet again

Just a week after extensive flooding forced people from their homes and caused millions of dollars in damages to roads and bridges throughout southern New Brunswick, residents are being told to prepare themselves again, as rainwater and the continued spring thaw pushed the province's rivers and streams to their limits.

Heavy rainfall over the past few days through Atlantic Canada has been making things difficult for many Maritimers, but in southern New Brunswick, this latest deluge is putting the area at risk for more flooding and more hardship. A week ago, much of the province was under flood watches and warnings, which continued through the weekend and in many places along the St. John River, water levels still haven't gone down to safe levels yet.

New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety has issued flood warnings for the St. John River, between Fredericton and St. John, as well as regions around Grand Lake, east of Fredericton for the next few days. Water levels through that section of the river, as well as its immediate tributaries and through Grand Lake are already at or above flood levels — at least 4 metres deeper than normal — and are expected to rise and remain that way for at least the next few days.

Where these waterways overflowed their banks last week, the resulting flooding has already caused millions in damages to roads and bridges, while residents are dealing with flooded basements, and looming repair bills and insurance claims. Repair crews are already on site, working to get roads reopened as soon as possible, but according to CTV News, Transportation Minister Claude Williams says that it may take weeks to complete all the work.

Even in waterways where levels don't manage to overflow their banks, the amount of water flowing through them is still a danger — partly due to the swift current, but mostly because to the masses of ice floating along on top of that current. This video from last Friday, taken in Sainte-Marie de Kent, NB, about 40 km north of Moncton, shows quite well the power of all that moving water and ice, and just what kind of damage it can do:

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The current flooding, in New Brunswick and through eastern Ontario and Quebec, is an unfortunate example of why forecasters were hopeful for a slow transition into spring weather. Although most of Canada was suffering through an extremely frigid winter this year, New Brunswick seemed to be shooting for some kind of record for number of snowfall warnings issued and for amount of snowfall on the ground since the start of the year. With the warmer weather moving in fairly quickly now, all that snow is quickly melting and the resulting water is being funneled by the still-frozen ground straight into the provinces streams and rivers.

This will get better as more of the ground thaws, but there's still a lot of snow left to melt before that happens, and any further heavy rains will compound the problem. Let's hope that residents can a speedy cleanup for the flooding that's already happened so far, and that they can avoid the worst of what may come.

(Photo courtesy: The Canadian Press)

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