St. John River in Fredericton surpasses 2018 flood levels

Floodwaters in Fredericton have surpassed 2018 levels at 8.35 metres. Last year's recorded peak was 8.31 metres.

Water levels in the capital are expected to stabilize over the next few days before starting to recede but rise farther down the St. John River, said Jasmin Boisvert, water resources specialist with the Department of Environment and Local Government.

"We're expecting that the flooding in the lower St. John River basin from Fredericton to Saint John will persist for at least the next five days," Boisvert said.

Boisvert said water levels in the upper river basin are similar to those forecast over the weekend, but they have persisted longer than expected. This, coupled with more forecast rain, will create higher than expected water levels downriver, he said.

Evacuations encouraged 

Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization, said people who had to evacuate their homes last year or during earlier floods should expect to do the same this year.

"If you are considering evacuating your home, you probably should," MacCallum said. "This is the time."

Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press

"If you decide to stay, there's some things you need to understand. If you need an emergency evacuation, it is impossible to say how quickly first responders' will be able to reach you."

MacCallum said road closures limit first responders' access, and some evacuations have already been made by boat.

Those who stay in their homes should ensure they have all the necessary supplies to be self-sufficient for several days, and also consider the potential for power outages when making their decision. 

"Preparedness doesn't just imply sandbags. It implies planning contingencies and making hard decisions."

Road closures

Ahmed Dassouki of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said people should stay informed on roads impacted by flooding before they travel.

They should also use New Brunswick 511 and check online. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, there were 59 road closures in the province.

Dassouki also reminded people not to drive around or move barricades, saying the minimum fine for doing so is $172.50.

"Moving barricades can be a threat to your safety and those who will have to come after and rescue you," Dassouki said.

Red Cross ready to help evacuees

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Bill Lawlor of the Canadian Red Cross said 256 people from 98 households are registered with the organization so far, but more are expected as water levels rise.

Lawlor said even evacuees who have their own plans and don't need immediate assistance from the Red Cross should register.

Emergency Measures Organization in Saint John issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents in some places along the St. John River on Monday.

  • Randolph Island – those living past the Randolph Bridge.
  • Westfield Road – those living between Bay Street and Grenville Lane.
  • Ragged Point Road – those living past  St-François de Sales Church.
  • Beach Road.
  • Any other isolated area along the St. John River within the city of Saint John.

Kevin Clifford, Saint John's fire chief and head of the city's Emergency Measures Organization, said about 650 people live in those isolated areas.

He's urging resident to heed the voluntary evacuation notice.

"We expect that [if] the water rises, that the amount of people that could be impacted and isolated will rise," he said.

Schools, offices closed

Widespread flooding kept some schools closed Tuesday and forced the closure of many roads.

In the Anglophone West School District, Barker's Point Elementary School, Andover Elementary School, Perth-Andover Middle School and Southern Victoria High School were closed because of flooding.

In the Sunbury West and Hoyt areas, students in kindergarten to Grade 8 could not go to their school in Fredericton Junction.

Meanwhile, the Fredericton courthouse relocated from downtown to the top of Regent Street on Tuesday, and the city set up a special transit service to discourage people from taking their cars to work.

Wayne Tallon, the director of Fredericton's Emergency Measures Organization, said close to 150 homes in New Brunswick's capital are affected by the flooding.

"Right now, what's saving us a little is the fact there's no winds," Tallon said.

"If the winds come up, it creates waves and the waves pound on people's homes and properties." 

In the Fredericton area, fire crews are also performing wellness checks to homes affected by flooding. Forty-two soldiers with the Canadian Armed Forces are also helping fill sandbags in the area. 

About 120 troops have been deployed to assist with flood efforts across the province.  

Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press

Jody Price, the fire chief of the Oromocto Fire Department, said crews have helped 25 people leave their homes in the Maugerville and Sheffield areas.

"We have a significant event going on," he said.

"We have high water, fast-moving water around homes and over the road."