Heavy rain wreaks havoc, 2 N.B. communities expected to reach flood stage

·2 min read
The St. John River at Gagetown has reached flood stage, but water has not risen high enough to cause any damage as it did in 2018, pictured above. (Alessandra Rigano/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The St. John River at Gagetown has reached flood stage, but water has not risen high enough to cause any damage as it did in 2018, pictured above. (Alessandra Rigano/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Heavy downpours and strong winds are causing power outages and toppling trees and branches in some areas of southern New Brunswick.

As of Tuesday evening, N.B. Power was reporting more than 4,000 power outages, with about half of those in the Kennebecasis Valley in southwestern New Brunswick and about 1,000 outages in the Moncton area.

Roads in the Rothesay and Quispamsis area were littered with large branches, and heavy rain and hail continued to pelt the area.

Up to 60 millimetres of rain is expected before the storm fades later Tuesday evening, according to Environment Canada.

The heavy rains could exacerbate flood season, which is already underway.

On Tuesday, the provincial Emergency Measures Organization said it was shifting its attention from northern to southern New Brunswick.

EMO spokesperson Geoffrey Downey said the St. John River in the Gagetown area is slightly over the flood stage, and neighbouring Jemseg is forecast to hit flood stage Thursday.

Fredericton is also under a flood warning, but it is not forecast to hit flood stage in the next five days.

Residents of these areas and others living near flood-prone areas are asked to keep an eye on the forecast and keep a 72-hour emergency kit ready.

Environment Canada issued rainfall warnings for the Fundy, Grand Manan, Saint John, Sussex and St. Stephen areas Tuesday, where more than 50 millimetres of rain are expected.

But the impact of heavy rain may not be great, Downey said.

Northern New Brunswick is only expected to get about 16 millimetres, and temperatures will continue to be below freezing this week, he said. This means the snow will not melt all at once and overwhelm riverbanks farther south.

"The temperatures are still very good in in the north," he said. "It's getting up to, you know, barely 10 degrees or so and then it's dipping back below freezing at night. So that should keep the melt to a fairly constant level."

Downey also said hitting flood stage does not automatically mean damaging floods. For example, Saint-Hilaire reached flood stage over the weekend, but water levels were back below flood stage Tuesday and no damage was done.

"It could mean [the water has] just reached the edge of the property somewhere," Downey said. "But we're obviously still watching this very closely because things can change."

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