April 20, 2019 9:33 am
Updated: April 20, 2019 4:07 pm

120 Canadian soldiers deployed to flood-prone areas in New Brunswick as waters rise

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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About 120 Canadian soldiers will soon be deployed in western New Brunswick to help residents threatened by rising floodwaters.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs had a conversation with Justin Trudeau on Friday about federal assistance.

“The Prime Minister offered his support including the assistance of Canadian Armed Forces as needed and required,” Higgs said in a press release.

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“I know New Brunswickers are doing all they can to prepare for the flood. They should continue taking action to prepare for the flood as government does all it can to support them.”

On Saturday the soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown were officially called in. They’ve been tasked with helping fill sandbags and assisting with evacuating homes, if necessary.

READ MORE: Heavy rain and rapid snow melt could cause significant flooding in New Brunswick

“We do have some vehicles that are a little more suitable to going through deep water,” Lt.-Col. Sean French, commander of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, told a briefing in Fredericton.

“We’re here to help. We’re here at the request of the provincial government.”

Water levels in the Saint John River Basin are expected to rise significantly over the next few days, reaching or passing flood stage in several areas.

Flooding is forecast for multiple communities between Saint-François-de-Madawaska and Saint John as heavy rain and rapid snowmelt contribute to rising water levels.

Residents of 15 communities have been warned to remain on high alert.

Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization, says the rising waters are sure to lead to road closures in several areas, particularly in the Fredericton area and

“The time for preparedness is now,” said MacCallum. “If (residents) find themselves starting to get into difficult circumstances, they should be considering voluntarily evacuating their homes.”

The EMO is also monitoring other major rivers, including the Restigouche River, Middle River, and Tetagouche River, where ice jams and rising water levels could lead to localized flooding.

“Residents intending to relocate from their residences should be finalizing arrangements,” the EMO said in a statement. “Flood waters may rise quickly limiting access and making evacuation more difficult by increasing risks to those involved.”

WATCH: Combined rain and mild weather escalates flood danger in Eastern Canada

The latest forecast for the St. John River valley can be found on the province’s river watch website.

If New Brunswickers are in need of sand and sandbags, the province has depot locations listed on its website.

With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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