Floodwaters continue to cause major problems for homes and businesses in southern New Brunswick this weekend, but officials say the forecast calls for water levels to slowly recede in most areas in the coming week.
Geoffrey Downey, a spokesman for the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said while it was raining across much of the province Saturday, officials aren’t expecting a lot of precipitation in the days ahead.
He said the five-day flood forecast is for the Saint John River to be below flood stage in Fredericton, and down to flood stage in Maugerville, Oak Point and Saint John, by Thursday.
However, Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick EMO, said it’s too soon for any significant relief.
“That simply means that we’re going to get back to flood stage in some cases, and it will be a number of days before we’re below flood stage,” he said.
MacCallum warned that strong winds are posing problems, especially for crews using boats to survey damage and check on stranded homeowners.
“One of the potential implications to winds is that it may affect movement of ice, which may in fact run up on shore and cause infrastructure damage or additional problems with roads,” he said.
MacCallum said he’s keeping a particularly close eye on ice in Grand Lake, east of Fredericton.
Downey said while officials need to be on the water, members of the general public should not head out onto the rivers and streams just yet.
“The river remains a dangerous place and people should not be out doing any recreational activities on it,” he said.
In Fredericton, city crews have been hauling away truckloads of driftwood and other debris left behind by the flooding.
Wayne Tallon, a spokesman for the city, said the amount of debris seems to be even greater than it was last year.
Water levels have fallen significantly in Fredericton in recent days, and many of the affected roads have been reopened.
“We’re in semi-recovery mode here. We’re trying to get our transportation routes open so that Monday when people are heading back to work, everything should be OK,” Tallon said Saturday.
An overnight fire prompted NB Power to cut electricity to most of Fredericton’s downtown Saturday morning – forcing people using sump pumps to resort to generators to keep them working.
Meantime, the Trans-Canada Highway remains closed between Oromocto and River Glade, with the transportation department reporting 84 road closures across the province.
Ahmed Dassouki, of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said he expected the highway would be closed for several more days.
“Water is still touching parts of the highway and is on the highway in some areas. There is still debris that needs to be cleaned up. Once the water recedes, crews will have to do some inspections and assessments before the roads can open up,” he said.
The RCMP has asked motorists to be patient and not take risks as the province copes with increased traffic and delays.
In a tweet Saturday afternoon, the Mounties said one motorist was issued a $600 speeding ticket for driving 60 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit.
This is the second year in a row for record flooding in New Brunswick.
Bill Lawlor, New Brunswick director of the Canadian Red Cross, said many of the people who sought assistance last year, have applied again.
As of Saturday afternoon, 420 households or 1,052 people have registered with the Red Cross.
As a result, the Red Cross has launched a fundraising effort to help provide assistance.