Offices closed in flooded Fredericton, but water levels appear to be stabilizing
FREDERICTON -- Bob Leonard usually lives about 120 metres from the Saint John River, but these are not usual times on Alexandra Street in Fredericton.
"We had two ducks that started off on Alexandra Street and they swam up to the back of our property, swam across into the next property and then turned around and went back," Leonard, who is in his 60s, said Monday.
The Saint John River began flooding on Friday after heavy rains and snow melt in northern New Brunswick caused water levels to rise faster than expected and left many downtown Fredericton streets submerged.
By Monday morning, Leonard had two sump pumps chugging away in his basement as he fought a steady stream of water that was about two inches deep after first funnelling in about midday Friday.
"We don't have any damage, so we're fortunate," he said.
Officials said Monday that water levels along the Saint John were expected to rise over the next 48 hours, while several areas along the river had passed or will reach flood stage like Jemseg, Maugerville and Quispamsis.
"The forecast is calling for about eight millimetres for the next 48 hours, so we're happy that the river doesn't seem to be rising at the moment but this situation is far from resolved," Geoffrey Downey, spokesman for the Emergency Measures Organization, said in an interview Monday.
The Saint John River reached 8.2 metres -- or 1.7 metres above flood stage -- on Saturday, but had receded to 8.1 metres on Sunday. Heavy rains were dousing the area Monday, raising concerns that there could be further flooding in the area.
Several communities down river were already surpassing flood levels.
Other river systems were also at risk of flooding, including the Miramichi, Restigouche, Middle, Nashwaak, Middle and Tetagouche rivers.
Some government offices were shut down for the day, roads were closed and court hearings were being relocated in the capital city on Monday following flooding that is rivalling one of the province's worst floods.
"For Fredericton, this is on par with 2008, which is regarded as the second worst where flood levels hit 8.36 metres," said Downey.
The province said the closures in Fredericton were necessary because high water levels have left roads under water and created problems with parking. Offices outside the downtown would remain open.
At least one school was closed and several streets were barricaded.
Carol Dilworth, who lives a couple of streets up from the river in Fredericton, had barricades in front of her house but no flooding. She said she prepared days before the flooding by turning the gas off and removing things from her basement.
Dilworth said she's a bit of a veteran, having experienced three floods in the flood-prone zone, including the worst one in 1973.
"I left my house in a canoe with my young child and an elderly neighbour who was 85 at the time in 1973!" she said. "So there hasn't been a flood that's raised so much anxiety as that one did. We're just very wet, but it has receded quite a bit."
The Canadian Red Cross said Monday that 26 residences had been evacuated, affecting 58 people. That would not have included others who are thought to have evacuated on their own.
"It's devastating for lots of homes and it throws a massive wrench into just the general workings of the city," said Downey.
The province stressed that people should steer clear of the closed areas and not bypass barricades. Downey said the current is very strong and the river is full of debris.
In Nova Scotia, heavy rains on Sunday caused localized flooding in Cape Breton.
An ambulance ended up in deep water near Eskasoni on Sunday afternoon after veering into a water-filled ditch. Emergency Health Services said no patients were on board and no paramedics were injured. An official said a vehicle in front of the ambulance had stopped to avoid hydroplaning and the ambulance driver swerved to avoid it.
In an email, Nova Scotia said emergency measures officials had received no requests for assistance, and added that the amount of flooding over the weekend wasn't large enough to qualify for disaster financial assistance.
Meanwhile, residents in central and western regions of Newfoundland were being warned about elevated water levels due to melting snow as a result of warmer than usual temperatures.
The province said it was continuing to monitor water levels on the Exploits and Humber rivers "to prepare for the potential for flooding, pooling of water in low-lying areas, and possible impacts on property and road infrastructure."
The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor also tweeted a warning to residents.
"As water levels are high and will continue to be high for the foreseeable future, people are advised to stay away from the Exploits River as well as all culverts and drains in our area," it said.