Intense storm in Maritimes blamed for death of N.B. man
Published Thursday, October 1, 2015 7:35AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 1, 2015 9:57PM EDT
Heavy rainfall that battered parts of New Brunswick is being blamed for widespread property damage and the death of a 51-year-old man.
More than 160 millimetres of rain drenched parts of the province on Wednesday and early Thursday, damaging bridges, highways, and guardrails.
N.B.'s Emergency Measures Organization said they are dealing with a number of road closures and bridges that have been washed out. They say it's still too early to estimate the extent of the damage.
"We are in the very early stages of assessment but it's expected to be significant," spokesperson Paul Bradly told CTV Atlantic.
The RCMP said a man from Berwick, N.B., about 110 kilometres west of Fredericton, died after a retaining wall collapsed on him as he was trying to connect a sump pump at his home Wednesday night. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The RCMP has not identified the man and said they will not investigate his death as it is considered accidental.
Across the province, the hardest-hit area appears to be in the south, which includes Hoyt, N.B., about 60 km south of Fredericton.
One of the few roads that lead in-and-out of the East Coast community was washed away Wednesday night, cutting off people from their homes.
"People can't get out of the community if they're not from here," said Capt. Brandon Luke of the Hoyt Fire Department. "We’ve got people who live in Fredericton and they can’t get out."
Some people in Hoyt have also voluntarily left their homes, according to Bradly. And in Grand Bay-Westfield, about 40 km south of Hoyt, more than a dozen families were staying with family and friends. A temporary reception centre has also been opened in nearby Oromocto, N.B., for anyone who has been forced from their homes.
The extensive damage from the downpour has some residents in the province asking why a state-of-emergency has not been declared.
"It is an emergency situation, however, the EMO has not declared not declared a state-of-emergency so we're looking after things here now," Luke said.
Asked if one will be declared, N.B.'s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Roger Melanson said the province is reacting to the damage as an "emergency situation."
He said the government's main focus at the moment is to ensure the safety of residents.
"This has been a severe storm and we will do everything that we can to respond quickly help these New Brunswick (residents) who are in a very difficult situation," Melanson said.
Cruise ships take shelter in Halifax harbour
Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, thousands of residents were without power on Thursday after hours of heavy rainfall.
Many of the roads across the province have also been covered with slick rainwater. Local police are urging drivers to slow down in order to avoid hydroplaning.
Environment Canada has also urged people in the area to prepare for flash flooding.
Despite the nasty weather, four cruise ships carrying more than 5,200 passengers plus crew members arrived in Halifax on Thursday to take shelter from the storm.
"In times of weather like we’re seeing now, we do our best to work with cruise lines, the captains of the vessel as well as the Atlantic Pilotage Authority and the tug operators to try and accommodate the vessels' needs as best we can," said Halifax Port Authority spokesperson Lane Farguson.
A fifth vessel decided to skip Halifax due to the weather, heading instead to its next port of call in Saint John, N.B.
Another intense storm is expected to hit the Maritimes in the coming days -- possibly by the weekend.
N.B.'s transportation and infrastructure minister said the province is monitoring the situation closely.
"Hopefully, it's going to avoid us but I’ve asked New Brunswick (residents) to make some conscientious decisions to be safe," Melanson said. "We'll do everything that we can as a government and certainly as a community to help out."
With files from CTV Atlantic and The Canadian Press