Mayor praises residents' kindness during N.B. floods
Daksha Rangan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 6, 2018 1:52PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 6, 2018 1:54PM EDT
Southern New Brunswick is currently facing its worst spring flooding in decades, yet there's no shortage of compassion and camaraderie among its residents, the mayor of one of the hardest-hit areas says.
Saint John Mayor Don Darling described what he witnessed over the last few days to CTV News Channel on Sunday.
Hundreds of volunteers across the region have been helping fellow residents save their homes, putting sandbag walls down and "refusing to give up," he said.
"It has been unbelievable. In the midst of this tragedy it has brought out the best of our community, it's something we're very well known for.”
Environment Canada issued a widespread special weather statement on Saturday for a swath of the province -- including Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton -- ahead of an additional 10 to 20 mm of rain beginning Sunday evening.
"The peak water levels seem to be a bit lower than what we have predicted," Darling said. "We're predicting around six metres now, but I can tell you that's very, very high water and we have seen a significant amount of hardship here in the Saint John area."
Despite the extensive damage to many homes and city infrastructure, Darling says there's continuous support among community members and volunteers.
"Just this morning I was coming out of one of the sand bag depots where we've had hundreds and hundreds of volunteers helping us out, and I met young Logan, three years old, who had been asking his mom for the last two days to take him down so he could help. [And] yesterday I met a Syrian newcomer who was trying to explain that his English wasn't very good, but what he said to me was, 'Canada saved me, and I want to save Canada," Darling said.
"It's truly heartwarming, emotional, a bit overwhelming at times -- I've shared some tears with homeowners and residents, and it's been a sight. It's very difficult for me to describe."
Fredericton resident Rob Dekany is one of many hundreds of volunteers who has given his time -- and his boat -- to help flood victims.
Dekany, nicknamed "Uber Rob," has been helping ferry roughly 200 residents per day between Darlings Island, N.B., and the mainland, using his 18' 9" fishing ski boat.
"When I bought it, the only thing I planned to do with it is fishing and maybe a little bit of tubing," Dekany told CTV News Channel in a phone interview on Sunday.
But Dekany's plans changed when he saw that the 2-kilometre road connecting Darlings Island to mainland New Brunswick was completely submerged under water.
"This is just one way I can give back to the community," Dekany said, adding that his passengers have been extremely grateful. "I'm getting more praise than I could've ever imagined."
With the aid of the federal government, New Brunswick has announced a disaster relief plan, and The Red Cross is collecting donations across the country to help flood victims.
As more roadways become impassable and water levels remain incredibly high, Darling says more support will be needed long after the flooding subsides.
"We are going to need a tremendous amount of help here -- there will be clean-up and operations for months to come, so there will be help, there will be relief, and I know that my city and my province will continue to come together and help victims of this flood."
With files from CTV News Channel