New Brunswick's wild weather causes chaos across the province

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New Brunswick's wild weather causes chaos across the province

New Brunswick's wild weather causes chaos across the province

The extreme weather New Brunswickers experienced this weekend caused dozens of road closures and stranded some residents.

Pooling water caused by the rain and unseasonably warm temperatures led to road closures, flooded homes and even evacuations in some areas. Rainfall amounts totalled 125 millimetres in some areas of the province.

Public works crews were out Sunday assessing and repairing damage to roads in the province.

Greg McCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said the organization is now pivoting into the recovery phase of their operation.

"There's a considerable amount of repair work to be done, both in terms of infrastructure and the road network and in many cases individual homes," said McCallum.

It was a relief that the prolonged freezing rain forecasted by Environment Canada did not occur, said Robert Duguay, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

"With that change, that makes the situation less dramatic. We were very concerned that we could have even more power outages," he said. As of 1:34 p.m. Sunday,  there were still 2,453 NB Power customers in the dark. The vast majority of those outages were in Kent County.

McCallum said EMO would be opening their damage report line sometime Sunday but said residents should call their insurance companies as well since it's not known if the government will be offering assistance.

Residents in the Thompson subdivision of Musquash were told to leave their homes overnight Saturday after concerns arose about the stability of the dam in the community outside Saint John.

Neil Jacobson, a director for Region 3 for the Department of Energy and Resource Development, said there's no indication the dam has been damaged but inspections will continue later Sunday.

There is also no timeframe for a return for residents.

"We'll make that determination at some point later this evening if not tomorrow," said Jacobson.

Several highways in the province remain at least partially closed. Highway 126 from Rogersville to Moncton is closed to all traffic, while Highway 116 from Harcourt to Rexton is only open to emergency and service vehicles.

Risk of flooding continues

While flood waters are receding in most areas, there is still a risk of flooding along the Magaguadavic River in Charlotte County.

"This jam has the potential to cause additional localized flooding," said McCallum.

"We're asking personel who live in those locations to ensure they have a plan to, if necessary, leave their homes."

McCallum said the ice jam has the appearance of being manageable, but said ice jams can be unpredictable.

Communities that lay along the river include Bonny River and St. George.

Crews work to restore roads 

Between 38 to 40 other roads in the province have at least partial closures. A full list of road closures can be found at the government's 511 website.

Transportation Minister Bill Fraser said department staff are now focused on restoring transportation links throughout the province. 

He said crews with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure are on the road today to do interim repairs and assess the extent of the damage. 

Though travel advisories have now been lifted, he asked that motorists use "extreme caution" and check the government's 511 website before heading out as dropping temperatures could impact road conditions very quickly. 

McCallum said there are no communities cut off, but some may be difficult to access.

Ferry stranded 

Roads were not the only mode of transportation impacted Saturday. 

At about 5:30 p.m., a cable snapped on the Westfield ferry, stranding passengers in the middle of the St. John River. 

The service transports people and their vehicles between Grand Bay-Westfield and Hardings Point on the Kingston Peninsula. 

There were about 15 vehicles on board at the time, Fraser said. 

A tugboat was engaged to pull the ferry to shore. However, because of the extreme weather conditions, Fraser said the vessel had difficult moving through the ice and needed a second tugboat to help pull the ferry in. 

The Transportation Department managed to get passengers ashore by 11:30 Saturday night, he said. 

The ferry was back in operation Sunday. 

The department, which manages the ferry, is not sure what caused the ferry cable to snap, Fraser said. 

Daring rescue 

Crews also had to help rescue a man who became stranded with his dog in Fredericton Junction, 

Fraser said the man's minivan appeared to have been swept off the road. 

Transportation Department staff waded through "deep, icy water" in order to get to him and his dog, he said. 

The Hoyt Fire Department then helped get the man from the vehicle and then transported him to hospital, said fire captain Brandon Luke. 

The last few days have been "very trying" for crews, who have been working "extremely hard" in bad weather conditions, Fraser added. 

Phones out in some areas 

Kevin McCaig, the deputy fire chief for the Hammond-Jeffries Volunteer Fire Department, said landlines were out Sunday for most of the area.

The department was asking people to drive to the nearest location with cell service in the event of an emergency. 

But McCaig noted cell service is usually very spotty in the rural community. 

Most of the department's volunteers were without power at their own homes for 12 to 36 hours, he said.

Marilyn Stockdale, who lives in the nearby community of Cassidy Lake, said her home phone service died at about 10 a.m. Saturday. 

She said she'd had to drive at least 10 minutes from her home on very icy roads to get cell service.

"It's just a bad situation all around," she said. 

Isabelle Boulet, a spokeswoman with Bell Aliant, said flooding damaged an underground cable Saturday, affecting service to some customers in and around the Bloomfield area, which is about 30 minutes from Jeffries Corner. 

Boulet said technicians completed repairs Sunday morning and services have been restored.

"We encourage any customers continuing to experience service issues to contact us at 1-888-214-7896," she said via email. 

Boulet said repair work continues in the Hammondsvale area as well, which encompasses Jeffries Corner.  

"We hope to have services restored as soon as possible," she said. 

McCallum said EMO has not been given an estimated time of restoration for phone service but is aware of the issues.