N.B. flood waters recede, could be weeks before 'normal'
Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 11:33 AM - Despite improving weather conditions and the start of receding river levels, residents in New Brunswick are being urged to remain vigilant as currents are still strong and there is significant debris in the water. The "perfect storm" of weather conditions came together at all the wrong times to make this year an historic one along the St. John River. Our expert explains below.
- Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 2) between Moncton and Fredericton remains closed
- N.B. Premier Brian Gallant called for assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard
- Water levels dropped to 7.1 metres from 8 metres in Fredericton Tuesday morning
- Emergency management is warning residents that flood waters are 'highly contaminated' with sewage and pose health risks
- Click here to help flood victims
WEATHER STILL ON OUR SIDE
Fortunately, the recent warm and dry weather conditions are helping to stabilize the disastrous flood situation in New Brunswick with water levels beginning to drop quickly.
Between 5-10 mm of rain will spread across Nova Scotia on Thursday, but southern New Brunswick will likely only see a couple of millimetres with this push of moisture.
Despite the improving conditions and receding water levels, emergency officials say it could take months before life for the flood victims returns to normal.
"The damage is going to be widespread. There's going to be a lot of it," Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization told CBC news. "Maybe your home wasn't flooded out that badly, but whatever might be in the water has created potential health issues that you have to address as well."
HOW DID THIS FLOODING BECOME HISTORIC?
The perfect combination of a late season heavy snowpack and a rapid jump in temperatures near the end of April combined to create this flooding disaster. According to Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern, it was all in the timing.
"The big key to this story was how quickly this surge in temperatures melted the snow, putting a huge strain on the rivers in the province," Wenckstern says.
WATCH BELOW: WHY THE FLOODING BECOME HISTORIC WITH METEOROLOGIST ERIN WENCKSTERN
WATER CONTAMINATION DANGERS
New Brunswick's EMO are warning residents that floodwaters could be heavily contaminated.
"Rising flood waters may cause your community’s sewerage systems to become overwhelmed and this can lead to sewage backing up into homes or businesses," officials warn. "The flood water itself can also be heavily contaminated with sewage. Please be aware of the health risks associated with contamination from sewage. It can cause sickness and infections."
The province announced last week that free testing will be available for water from private wells, which have been affected by flooding. Beginning May 17, water sampling kits will be available at Service New Brunswick Centres for owners of private wells.
WATCH: RESIDENTS DOING THEIR BEST TO PROTECT THEIR HOMES
WATER LEVELS TO DROP BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY THE WEEKEND
For the first time in many days early Tuesday, the St. John River did NOT rise above the previous day's highest level. Water levels dropped to 5.4 metres on Wednesday and are expected to dip even further in the coming days. A new record high was set in the city overnight Sunday as the river rose a full foot above the previous highs in 1973.
In Fredericton, water levels dropped to 7.17 metres Wednesday morning, down from the 8 metres on Monday.
"Fredericton, Maugerville and Oak Point will be below flood stage come Saturday, Sunday," Downey said, adding that the hard work begins now. "There's a lot of recovery work that's going to need to be done, just because floodwaters are down doesn't mean everything returns to normal immediately."
NEW BRUNSWICK FLOODING ONGOING COVERAGE
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The provincial government of New Brunswick continues to consult with municipal and federal officials on relief needs, including the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Armed Forces.
"The government has asked and received support from the Coast Guard, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada to provide assistance where it is most needed," adds the EMO. "The situation is being monitored closely and the Armed Forces are involved in conversations regarding relief efforts."
TRANS-CANADA HIGHWAY REMAINS CLOSED BETWEEN FREDERICTON AND MONCTON
The rising water levels and flooding has closed more than 100 roads across the province.
Last Thursday night, the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton was closed to all traffic as water levels continued to rise. The highway remains closed and the re-opening could be postponed until the end of the week.
Those travelling between Moncton and Fredericton are detoured to Route 1 through River Glade and Route 7 at Oromocto.
"Many roads remain covered by water," the EMO says. "Drivers should be extremely cautious and obey closure notices. Drivers are advised to exercise caution even after roads are clear of water. In some cases, water has caused damage to roads that may not be immediately apparent."
(MUST SEE PHOTOS: Images from the devastating flooding along the St. John River)
Drivers are advised to follow closure notices. A list of the latest road closures can be found here.
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES DISASTER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The provincial government launched a Disaster Financial Assistance program. It is available to anyone with uninsurable losses and is intended to help communities and residents get back on their feet after a disaster.
As of Tuesday, 1378 people across the province had registered with the Red Cross. To date, nearly 952 NB Power customers have also had their services disconnected due to flooding.
Residents can report damages related to flooding by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.