New Brunswick launches River Watch 2017

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick River Watch 2017 launching Monday' New Brunswick River Watch 2017 launching Monday
WATCH ABOVE: Global New Brunswick’s Adrienne South reports on the province’s 2017 River Watch and the government’s advice on how to be prepared for general and localized flooding. – Mar 9, 2017

The government of New Brunswick’s River Watch program will officially start on Monday, to help keep people across the province informed about potential flooding risks.

READ MORE: Heavy rain causes localized flooding, power outages in southern, central New Brunswick

Representatives of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, the Department of Environment and Local Government, and Environment Canada held a press conference Thursday.

EMO director Greg MacCallum said it’s important for the public to follow and keep up with alerts relating to potential flooding.

“The point we wanted to make here is that we are now in a situation where we are anticipating our river systems are going to start swelling with run-off water from melt and precipitation and in an abundance of caution we want to inform the public to pay particular attention to those water courses,” MacCallum said.

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He said he wants people to be safe and prepared with 72-hour emergency kits in case flooding leads to evacuations.

Provincial water resources specialist Jasmin Boisvert said there are currently four ice jams across the province – on the Tobique River, St. John River near Florenceville, one on the Kennebecasis River and another on the Hammond River.

READ MORE: New Brunswick program to help fund repairs for rain, flood damage

“An ice jam is an accumulation of ice that restricts the flow of water locally diverting flow or raising water levels,” Boisvert said.

He said the location of ice jams are hard to predict and said the province closely monitors evolving ice conditions.

MacCallum said none of the current jams are a “complete blockage.”

“Rest assured that in the event that we do have localized or generalized flooding that all the provincial resources that are standing by will be devoted to dealing with such a development,” MacCallum said.

READ MORE: Parts of New Brunswick flooding due to rising waters and ice jams

MacCallum said people who have experience with flooding in the past should be prepared and suggests moving personal possessions, vehicles and yard equipment to high ground and securing valuable items that they keep in basements.

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He said it’s also dangerous for people who take part in winter recreation activities to be out on the ice.

“The ice is becoming unpredictable and in some cases, you know with this melt, freeze cycle that’s going on, it may look like solid ice, but we no longer have confidence that it’s safe to either walk on or snowmobile across or anything of the like,” MacCallum said.

MacCallum said anyone who sees an ice jam should report it to the EMO.

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