N.B. recovers from flood damage

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Fredericton is preparing for more flooding as the St. John River is expected to rise one metre above the 6.5-metre flood stage.

Flood levels are starting to fall around Fredericton after days of heavy rain caused severe damage across southern New Brunswick, according to the province's Emergency Measures Organization.

A recent deluge of rain had caused forecasters to predict the waters would hit 7.6 metres in Fredericton on Wednesday, above the 6.5-metre flood stage.

Karl Wilmot, an official with the province's Emergency Measures Organization, said in an interview on Wednesday morning the flood levels around Fredericton hit their peak at about 3 a.m.

"The situation is completely weather dependent. We are hoping this decline will continue," Wilmot said.

Wilmot said it is too early to estimate how much damage the flooding has caused. But he said he expects the dollar figure to be high once the estimates are in.

Fredericton has warned that areas that should expect flooding include Lower St. Mary's, Barkers Point, Lincoln, Marysville, Waterloo Row, Point Saint Anne Boulevard, and Devonshire Drive, including ramps to the Westmorland Street Bridge.

City work crews have been monitoring the flood situation overnight.

Dylan Gamble, the manager of roads and streets in Fredericton, said the Westmorland Street Bridge was opened at about 6 a.m.

However, Gamble said the rain turned to freezing rain at about 4 a.m. and that has created dangerous driving conditions.

"Even though the water has receded, people should drive very slowly," Gamble said.

The city official said there are still roads that are underwater in the city. Gamble estimates the storm damage will cost the city at least $30,000 to repair washouts and curb damage.

Fredericton drivers have been asked to respect any barricade put in place for the protection of themselves and others.

The flooding is causing continued school closures in parts of the province.

The heavy rains that pelted the province in the last 48 hours forced NB Power to open the gates of the Mactaquac dam on the St. John River.

That decision means more water will be heading downstream and likely more flooding.

Communities just outside of Fredericton, which are also along the St. John River, such as Durham Bridge, Maugerville, Jemseg and Sheffield will rise to just flood levels or below on Wednesday.

Wilmot said at one point there were about 50 people in shelters, mainly residents from communities such as Burtts Corner, Zealand and Bonny River.

Dan Bedell, an official with the Canadian Red Cross, said the impact from the flood damage seems to be passing.

"The worst seems to be over," Bedell said in an interview on Wednesday.

District 10, which includes schools in the St. Stephen area, has said all of its mainland schools will remain closed on Wednesday.

In District 14, Keswick Valley Memorial School, located in Burtts Corner, will also remain closed.

Meanwhile, NB Power is still reporting 719 customers are without power, mainly in the Sussex and Bathurst areas.

Meanwhile, Poul Jorgenson, executive director of the New Brunswick Trails Council, said the rain storm has caused between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of damage to the province's trail network.
Dramatic rescue

Wilmot said the hardest hit area of the province has been in Charlotte County. Environment Canada said 174 mm of rain fell in St. Stephen.

The flooding led to a dramatic rescue in southwest New Brunswick on Tuesday night.

At about 9:30 p.m., two people were driving along Route 770 in the rural community of Bonny River and were swept off the road and into the Magaguadavic River.

They hadn't realized flash flooding had washed away a section of the highway.

Fortunately for the couple, someone nearby saw the car's headlights disappear and alerted others.

They heard cries for help, and found the pair on top of the vehicle, which was being swept downstream. A boat was launched and the two were pulled to safety.

Other boats were also on the swollen waters as Bonny River was completely cut off on Tuesday. All roads and bridges leading there were either washed out or covered in water.

Some Cooke Aquaculture workers used company boats to assist people living in the area.

Randy Griffin was at the helm of one of the vessels that was coming to the aid of people in the southwestern New Brunswick.

"I was just going up to haul people back because I wasn't sure what kind of situation was up there, so just lending a hand," Griffin said.

Few people decided to leave the community despite the flooding.

Several people are reported to be taking shelter at the Bonny River Fire Department.