Flood waters have receded in Maugerville, N.B., but evidence of the worst flooding in the province’s history is everywhere.
Piles of waterlogged household belongings litter driveways and makeshift garbage dumps.
Homeowner Claude Basque typifies an emotional aftermath.
“That’s where I’m cutting all the walls, up that high. Everything has to come out,” says Basque, standing on a kitchen floor whose top layer he’s stripped off.
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The living room floor is also ruined.
“In this area, in the back part of the house, the water came so hard it pushed the floor up and down, up and down. That’s why it sank the floor right down.”
Basque recorded video as the flood surged in on April 27. The video shows his wife Diana McRae crying, knowing they’d soon need to abandon their home.
They now face an emotional decision – whether to rebuild or relocate.
“It’s something to think about for sure, but we don’t know for sure yet,” said Basque. “We’re just taking it one day at a time, and that’s pretty well all we can do.”
If they do stay, Basque estimates they’ll need to raise the house by a metre.
Basque’s home is among 2,651 residential properties and cottages the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) says have been registered for disaster financial assistance.
“This is unprecedented flooding,” says the EMO’s Geoffrey Downey.
“We’re not sure at this point how many homes have been affected, how many structures. That’s why we’re asking people to call and register so we can understand what the magnitude of this is, and help people as soon as possible.”
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Many Maugerville basements are empty. Their contents have been piled in makeshift garbage dumps, and in driveways. The value of some possessions is difficult to evaluate.
Roger Cormier’s driveway pile includes a settee built in 1835. A retired furniture restorer, Cormier is sorry to see it go.
“I had every intentions of recovering it,” he said.
But he’s happy to have got out unscathed.
“I just barely made it out of here.”
Activity on the river is returning to normal, but it could be take months before their lives get back to the way they were.