FREDERICTON — A major milestone has been hit in New Brunswick’s flood recovery: Transportation officials hope to reopen the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton at noon Friday.
The four-lane stretch — usually used by 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles daily — has been closed for the past week because of record-breaking flooding in the province.
The water has receded from the road but now crews are removing all the debris, mainly logs and driftwood.
Norm Clouston, the general manager of Maritime Road Development Corp., says crews expected to remove about 25 tandem truck loads of debris by noon local time today and will remove another 20-30 truckloads.
As flood levels drop in the province, Geoffrey Downey, spokesman for the Emergency Measures Organization, said it may be safe for some residents to return to their homes, but he urged people to take a cautious approach.
“If it’s safe to get back into your home and begin, then absolutely. That’s the key thing we’re preaching right now. You have to do it safely,” he said Thursday.
“I can only imagine how eager people are to get back and start figuring out what their immediate future holds, but it doesn’t make any sense if your home is still filled with water and part of the river. Hold on if you can and wait and do it safely.”
In Fredericton, water levels were down to 6.8 metres after reaching 8.1 metres on Monday.
In Saint John, they had gone down to 5.23 metres Thursday after being up to 5.75 metres days ago. But, he says the city is still well over flood stage.
Downey says 1,516 people from 655 households had registered with the Red Cross, indicating they had evacuated their homes.
Officials say residents still need to be careful in handling the water, since it’s suspected it has been fouled by different contaminants.
Emergency officials were also pleading with residents to be patient, as some roads that were submerged may not be safe to drive on until they are inspected.
The Canadian Red Cross says it will begin distributing flood cleanup kits, which include a mop, broom, scrub brush, sponges, latex gloves, masks and garbage bags.