Flash flooding forced the evacuation of more than three dozen people in Sussex, N.B. overnight.
Michelle Bond was afraid for her 20-year-old daughter, who was forced to flee her home on Holman Avenue.
“She was so scared,” said Bond. “She was having anxiety attacks.”
Trout Creek runs adjacent to Holman Avenue. The creek, which empties into the Kennebecasis River, breached its banks in heavy rain forcing at least 38 people to abide by the town’s voluntary evacuation order.
Bond says her daughter carried her dog and cat to the end of the road and dry land.
“The water was up to her hips,” said Bond.
“The ice was hitting her. She says it was cold, very, very cold. It was really bad.”
The Canadian Red Cross says it was able to arrange emergency lodging for people living in 27 houses or apartments, accounting for most of the people the town indicated had evacuated. The Saunders Irving Chapel at Kingswood University set up an emergency reception centre from 11:30 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne says water levels peaked around 4 a.m. Friday before beginning to recede. He expects residents to begin returning to their homes and surveying the damage, which he hopes is minimal.
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He says the town will do what it needs to help out.
“If it’s getting dumpsters in place on the streets and so on, to what we can to help people get beyond the flooding that’s occurred,” said Thorne.
The Sussex area has been hit a number of times over the past several years by severe flooding events.
Thorne’s family was impacted by a major flood in 2014 and understands the pain people go through.
“There’s nothing as heartbreaking as standing at the top of your stairs looking down into perhaps a finished living room that you have, watching a life’s collection of family photos and things that you’ve collected over the years absolutely destroyed,” he said.
Tim Wilson used to live on Holman Avenue. He says something needs to be done about the twisty nature of the waterway to try to mitigate future flooding events.
“It needs to be opened up, ” said Wilson. “It needs to be dragged here in this river. There’s too many homes being lost here and it’s a sad situation.”
Thorne says the town has looked into the possibility of dikes or berms as a possible solution. He says that would run into the millions of dollars and likely wouldn’t address the fact much of the town sits on an old river bed with gravel below the surface.
Thorne adds the water from Trout Creek travels sideways underground and could still impact low-lying homes.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Thorne. “I’m not sure if we can ever fix it.”