Flooded-out rivers continue to threaten New Brunswick

FREDERICTON — As flood waters in Fredericton began to show some signs of relief Sunday, the owner of a popular craft brewery on the banks of the Saint John River was anxious to assess damage and begin clean-up.

“The brewery was built with the idea that we knew we would get water. So now we get to see if our planning worked,” said Sean Dunbar, owner of Picaroons Traditional Ales.

The brewery was completely surrounded by water this weekend and Dunbar said while the brewing area remained relatively dry, much of the building had about three inches of water and about a foot of water had flooded the new taproom.

The original portion of the renovated brick industrial building was built in 1874.

“It has flooded numerous times and made it through every single flood,” Dunbar said. “I’m confident the old building will make it through again.”

The Saint John River reached 8.2 metres or 1.7 metres above flood stage on Saturday, but had receded to 8.1 metres on Sunday.

Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization, said depending on possible rain over the next few days, river levels were expected to remain about the same in Fredericton, but there are flooding concerns downstream.

“Residents of southern regions of the province should be on the alert as the water levels are going to be rising further south of Fredericton,” he said Sunday.

MacCallum said people in places like Maugerville, Jemseg and the Saint John area need to be on alert.

Water levels rose rapidly at the end of last week due to rain and melting snow in the north of the province.

MacCallum said snow and ice continue to pose problems in the north. He said about a dozen homes had to be evacuated because of flooding near Bathurst.

“It is not yet resolved because it’s an ice jam and it will move when nature dictates it will move,” he said.

Transportation officials said there has been erosion damage on sections of Highway 144 near Edmundston, while water covers a number of sections of Highway 105.

Ahmed Dassouki, director of operations for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said the water would have to recede before crews can assess damage.

In Fredericton, more than 40 streets and roads have been closed, and Wayne Tallon, the city’s director of Emergency Measures said police won’t tolerate anyone ignoring or removing barricades.

“Barricades are in place for a reason. After three days of warnings, the public is advised that fines will now be issued to people not respecting the barricades,” he said.

Those fines are $172.50.

NB Power has cut electricity to about 150 homes that have been flooded.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant spent some time on the weekend visiting areas of Fredericton and Maugerville affected by the flooding.

“I was amazed at the strength of the currents flowing over the roads,” he said.

MacCallum issued a warning for people to stay off the rivers and waterways because of strong currents and debris in the water.

“There have been observed instances of people still wanting to kayak, to boat, and to get out into the river system to get that perfect photo. This is an inherently irresponsible act,” he said.

However, small boats and hip waders were the only way to get along some streets in Fredericton Sunday as residents ventured to assess the damage to their homes.

At Picaroons, Dunbar said he’s had lots of offers of help from friends and other brewers to get the operation back in full swing.

“I think we’ll definitely commemorate the flood of 2018 with a brew of some kind and we’ll invite all the flood prone, and all the people who help us out, to come in and celebrate once it’s all over,” he said.

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