Massive ice jam in Perth-Andover, N.B. prompts evacuation order amid flooding concerns

WATCH ABOVE: New Brunswick community evacuated due to huge ice jam build up. Ross Lord reports

PERTH-ANDOVER, N.B. – A local state of emergency and mandatory evacuation has been declared in a western New Brunswick community where a massive ice jam in the Saint John River is putting homes and businesses at risk of flooding.

A Perth-Andover village official estimates 300 people are affected by the evacuation order, which was declared Saturday night in the low-lying areas. After a meeting on Monday morning, Mayor Terry Ritchie said the order would remain in effect and another decision would be made at noon.

WATCH: Global’s Laura Brown reports on the situation in Perth-Andover

Ritchie told Global Newsthe situation is terrifying.

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“[The ice] is not moving now. In a few minutes from now, in a few hours from now — or worse in the middle of the night — if that’s moving, you see mountains form in the middle of the river,” Ritchie said.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes briefly on Sunday during daylight, but had to leave again by the evening. Water levels could rise quickly if ice shifts in the river and the situation is unpredictable.

The Canadian Red Cross said most of the people evacuated Saturday night are staying with friends and family, but some spent the night at a temporary shelter set up at the Perth-Andover Middle School.

Katie Elisio from the Red Cross said residents have mixed reactions about the evacuations, ranging from familiarity to stress.

“We’re getting people who come in and they’re frazzled,” Elisio said. “They’re stressed, they’re anxious because you have these mandatory evacuations. We have these alarms and sirens going off.”

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The community also declared a local state of emergency in 2008 and 2009. In 2012, flooding destroyed 75 buildings in the community and prompted the relocation of some homes to higher ground.

With files from The Canadian Press and Laura Brown

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