As floodwater in Maugerville, N.B., begins to recede, the extent of damage in the community is becoming more evident.
Maugerville resident Markus Harvey said it’s the worst flooding he’s ever seen. Harvey’s family evacuated a week ago, but he decided to stay in his home even during the worst part of the flood, without power.
Harvey said he wasn’t expecting water levels to get as high as they did, especially so quickly. He said the community knew there was a possibility of flooding because of the snow in the northern part of the province and the amount of rain forecast, but said the water came up quickly and caught everyone by surprise.
That coupled with quite a bit of rain and strong winds made the situation even worse, but even without any power for nearly a week, Harvey used his generator, built a makeshift toilet outside and found ways to cope.
Maugerville is a close-knit community and Harvey said he decided to stay to help protect the area.
“There was never a point when I was going to leave because there’s a certain group of us down here and certain unwritten responsibilities that we all kind of have to the community… so a bunch of us stay,” Harvey said.
Harvey also had his home broken into over the weekend and managed to help track down three people attempting to steal from homes in the area in a canoe, and have them arrested.
He said as the water recedes, residents are starting to see the full impact of the flooding. Harvey said the damage is “absolutely devastating,” and will be “very expensive” to clean up.
“The last couple of days, it’s really gone down a lot so it’s a glimmer of hope and it’s going down the river so it’s a good and a bad because once the water does go down all the way, then people get down and see the full destruction of what’s happened,” Harvey said.
He said being without power was the most difficult because of the limited number of daylight hours, and said the constant sound of the generator, and being alone with only pet birds got to him.
“It was pretty dark for a couple of days for sure,” Harvey said.
During the day, he said people visited in boats, bringing him extra gas for the generator, and several people stopped by to visit and have a drink.
In areas where the water has receded, driftwood and debris cover the road.
Harvey said he built his house after the 2008 flood and said he built it three feet higher than 1973 floodwater levels.
Harvey said his septic backed up in the basement and he will have to re-do all the plywood around the walls because the septic got in. He said people down the road have it much worse. He said some people have two feet of water on their main floor.
“It’s just messy now,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he and a neighbour helped look after animals that weren’t able to be evacuated.
“For the last couple nights, I’ve been going to feed the cows down the road, there’s people with chickens, ducks, cats, dogs down the road, you know, you pop into a house here, pop into a house there, gather the eggs from the chickens that the chickens have laid overnight, that’s what we’ve been doing, that’s what I’ve been doing and as a community, we’ve banded together.”
Ronald Beatty lives down the road from Harvey and returned Wednesday to gather more belongings. Beatty had to park approximately 1.5 kilometres away and wade through the almost knee-deep water to his home.
“I’m just going in to get some clothes for my wife and I. Her purse, ’cause she definitely needs that and just a few essentials so we won’t be back there for quite a while,” Beatty said.
He said the water didn’t get into the main floor of his house, but said his basement windows are missing and said water ruined the washer and dryer, water softener and hot water heater.
“We’re lucky compared to other people,” Beatty said. “I would describe this as overwhelming.”
He said it will be months before the area gets completely cleaned up, but said he’s grateful to have such wonderful neighbours who are always willing to lend a hand.
Harvey said he worries many people won’t get nearly enough government money to help pay for all the damages. He said that inspired him to launch a GoFundMe page to try and help those directly impacted in Maugerville.
Harvey’s lawyer came out on Wednesday, bringing papers Harvey signed along with two other neighbours to set up a non-profit organization.
“What we raise, we hope to be able to give 100 per cent back to the people with those out-of-pocket expenses in between getting themselves back in their homes and fixed up and if and when government money comes in,” Harvey said.
He said it will cost millions to even begin to try to repair the damage in the community.
Harvey said people down the road will likely plow their houses down and won’t end up fixing them. He said there will likely be an exodus of people, and those who stay will likely make adjustments to build higher and come up with a plan in case a flood this severe happens again.