Heavy flooding caused by continuous snowmelt caused severe damage and prompted evacuations when St. John River in New Brunswick Province, Canada, reached record levels. Officials said the region has witnessed weather events like never seen before, adding that the result will most likely end up being the largest, most impactful flood the province has ever seen.
Saint John Emergency Management Organization (EMO) is urging residents in some low-lying areas along the St. John River to get out of their homes before the flooding worsens.
However, few people seemed to be heeding the warning Thursday, as the water reached record levels, CBC reports. Only 116 of the estimated 1 900 residents have evacuated.
'I've never seen it like this.' @NateTWN speaks with Darlings Island resident Kamil Forgie on the worsening flood situation in New Brunswick.— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) 3. toukokuuta 2018
If you're affected by #NBflood or would like to help those impacted, visit: https://t.co/jMd2YRMZPK pic.twitter.com/mxzhTnVcHS
"We're encouraging residents to [self-evacuate] and not to continue to wait this out," said David Dobbelsteyn, Saint John EMO director.
"Residents in the communities of Jemseg, Gagetown, Hampstead, Belleisle, Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Oak Bay and Saint John, as well as smaller communities in these respective regions, should take all necessary precautions," New Brunswick government said.
Water levels began to rise throughout the province from April 23 as a result of continuous snowmelt. Flooding has affected areas across New Brunswick over the last 5 days, causing damage to properties and closing 80 roads and bridges, including part of the Trans-Canada highway between Moncton and Fredericton.
Canadian Coast Guard is helping the provincial government with flood relief efforts.
"It is clear that due to flooding there will be houses and families isolated. We will be managing a long and complex event, and we will need to support New Brunswickers in many ways," said Premier Brian Gallant. “We are therefore taking steps to increase our capability for marine operations. We have requested assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard. They have granted our request and will help us reach out to those impacted."
"We are seeing weather events like we have never seen before," Gallant said in a briefing on the afternoon of May 3, adding: "This is most likely going to end up being the largest, most impactful flood that we have ever recorded here in New Brunswick, so it certainly puts all of our resources and people to the test."
The St. John River was above flood stage in 7 locations in the province: Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, Grand Lake, Sheffield-Lakeville Corner, Oak Point and Quispamsis-Saint John.
At Quispamsis-Saint John, the river reached a record 5.34 m (17.5 feet) on May 3, over 1 m (3.28 feet) above flood stage of 4.2 m (13.78 feet). The previous high was 5.31 m (17.42 feet) set in 1973. The river is expected to rise further, possibly reaching 5.9 m (19.35 feet) by May 7.
Evacuate today. Saint John EMO warns that water levels are rising. Residents in affected areas may lose power, water & sewer services soon. You may also be isolated & First Responders will have trouble reaching you in an emergency. Call Red Cross 1-800-863-6582 #RiverWatchSJ pic.twitter.com/xRNZ4Fz0zo— City of Saint John (@cityofsaintjohn) May 3, 2018
Featured image credit: The Weather Network