Storm hammers Atlantic region

HALIFAX — Powerful winds and rain battered the Maritimes on Tuesday, partially tearing off the roof of a retirement home, knocking out power for tens of thousands of people and causing New Brunswick’s St. John River to swell near its banks.

Sheldon Tingley looks at his his flattened car in a parking lot behind an apartment building on Willow Street in Windsor

Sheldon Tingley looks at his his flattened car in a parking lot behind an apartment building on Willow Street in Windsor

HALIFAX — Powerful winds and rain battered the Maritimes on Tuesday, partially tearing off the roof of a retirement home, knocking out power for tens of thousands of people and causing New Brunswick’s St. John River to swell near its banks.

The storm dumped a deluge of water in St. Stephen, N.B., located on the U.S. border with Maine, where town officials had to temporarily declare a state of emergency.

“Everybody I’ve spoken to say they’ve never seen flooding like this in St. Stephen . . . the Charlotte Mall, the entire mall area was flooded,” said town manager John Ferguson.

Ferguson said a “large swath of water” had covered an area near the downtown core and water levels in a nearby river had risen about two metres.

He said the main road leading to two border crossings with the U.S. was washed out along with several others.

“One-third of the road caved in and there was a significant amount of run-off that had been going over the road for several hours,” said Ferguson. “The road looks good, what’s left, but we really don’t know what it’s like underneath.”

Ferguson said he had at least one report of a boat being used to rescue people from one home on the outskirts of the town.

Town officials lifted the state of emergency later Tuesday after waters began to recede.

Areas of western New Brunswick had been told to brace for up to 130 millimetres of rain as the storm passed through the province Monday and Tuesday.

Karl Wilmot, a spokesman for New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization, said excess water was being allowed to pass through the Mactaquac Dam on the St. John River in the Fredericton area.

He said dams on the river don’t have the ability to store water.

“Once that capacity has been reached, they have no choice but to let the water go,” he said.

Elsewhere in New Brunswick, the Red Cross said at least 40 people were evacuated from several dozen homes north of Fredericton due to flooding caused by rainfall in communities including Burtts Corner and Nashwaak Bridge.

Help was also provided to several people in the Fredericton and Perth-Andover areas who were forced to flee basement-level apartments because of flooding.

Several roads were closed and a state of emergency was also declared in the village of McAdam, where heavy flooding affected several homes.

Ramona Jennex, Nova Scotia’s minister of emergency management, said there were no reports of localized flooding in her province. But high winds caused problems, downing trees and power lines.

“We haven’t had an issue at this particular point with flooding, but there is a possibility,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

Environment Canada issued wind warnings across the region, with gusts in the range of 100 kilometres an hour or more expected in many places and up to 140 km/h in western Cape Breton.