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Severe flooding prompts evacuations, emergencies declared

Digital writers

Sunday, January 14, 2018, 9:00 AM - Emergencies were declared Saturday in communities in New Brunswick and Newfoundland in the wake of flash flooding due to heavy rains.

The city of Corner Brook in western Newfoundland issued a full-fledged state of emergency Saturday afternoon as floodwaters rose in the midst of intense rainfall, warm temperatures and high snow pack. Citing "infrastructure damage, and an overwhelmed municipal drainage system," the emergency includes several road closures, including the Main Street Bridge.

"All available personnel are working to try and mitigate further damage," Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons said in a press release. For the time being, we ask residents to stay off the streets in affected areas, if possible and stay safe," Parsons said. 

Elsewhere in western Newfoundland, numerous road and highway closures are in effect due to flooding or washouts, including parts of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Rainfall warnings remained in effect for much of Newfoundland, particularly in the west, where the heaviest rain has been falling. Though Environment Canada says the rain will taper off in the evening, people will have to be vigilant for awhile longer.

"The public are also cautioned that the effects from extensive runoff due to the heavy rains and snowmelt over the mountains may not be felt at lower elevations until well after the heaviest rains have tapered off," the agency said in a rainfall warning for the Corner Brook area. "Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads. Don't approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts. Consider moving valuable items to higher levels."

Flooding in New Brunswick

The town of Sussex in south-central New Brunswick urged residents to evacuate their homes as soon as possible Saturday morning due to ongoing flood conditions.

"The Town of Sussex Emergency Operations Control Group is advising residents in affected areas to evacuate their homes [...] as conditions may have become unstable," read a statement posted to the town's Facebook page. 

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization issued a flood warning Saturday morning for for residents living along Trout Creek, as well as the Kennebecasis and Canaan Rivers.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday, over 8,500 customers remained without electricity in New Brunswick, including 830 in Sussex. The majority of outages as of Saturday were occurring from St. John to Sussex along Highway 1. Marc Belliveau, a communications officer with NB Power, told CBC News the outages in the Sussex area are related to trees falling on power lines.

A reception centre opened for evacuated Sussex area residents at Kingswood University, 20 Welsey Road.  

Widespread warnings 

Periods of rain will continue for much of New Brunswick through Saturday. As the rain falls, the already frozen ground will fail to absorb it, with heavy rain hastening the melting of accumulated snow pack so far. The combination of heavy rain with melting snow heightens the risk for localized flooding across many communities. If possible, clear your storm drains to allow the water to drain properly.

Environment Canada issued a flash freeze warning for Kings County and Kennebecasis Valley, cautioning a dramatic temperature drop could turn pooling water and falling precipitation into ice. 

"Very mild temperatures across the region will drop dramatically to below the freezing mark this afternoon as a very strong cold front sweeps across New Brunswick from northwest to southeast," the warning read. "This rapid drop could lead to a sudden freeze on untreated surfaces or where rainfall on the ground has accumulated."

More images of flooding in the Sussex area, below: 

Watch below: Man-made bridge unlikely to hang on as river floods increase in New Brunswick 

SOURCE: CBC News | Thumbnail courtesy of Allen Crousse

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