Perth-Andover in state of emergency due to flooding
Published Friday, March 23, 2012 4:19PM ADT
The village of Perth-Andover has declared a state of emergency due to major flooding in the area.
About 100 homes and businesses in the northern New Brunswick village have been evacuated after an ice jam in the St. John River caused it to flood.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for people residing in low-lying areas near the river and roughly 500 people were ordered to leave for higher ground early Friday.
A spokesperson for the village says 10 streets, including the main street on the Perth side of the river, have been evacuated and some streets and basements have already been flooded.
The Canadian Red Cross says the village office and local hospital are also impacted by flooded streets.
The organization dispatched volunteers and vehicles loaded with cots, blankets and supplies to the area to establish a reception centre for displaced residents.
A military helicopter has also been dispatched to rescue residents who are stranded by the rising flood waters.
Public safety manager Karl Wilmot says he doesn't know how many people are stuck in their homes, but he confirms none is in immediate danger.
Meanwhile, the province has issued water level warnings for several areas, including the Fredericton area, the Nashwaak River north of Fredericton and the community of Clair in northwestern New Brunswick.
Last night, three people who became trapped in their home due to rising flood waters near in Middle River, near Bathurst, were airlifted to safety.
An ice jam had formed early Thursday afternoon which caused the river to flood homes on Mathilda Street, and the trio became stranded in the home around 4 p.m.
When RCMP arrived to assist, they discovered the family of three and their two dogs weren't able to escape the home because it had become surrounded by the rapidly flowing flood waters.
"We quickly coordinated rescue efforts," said Cpl. Dan Dorais. "It was a risky situation because the water level was at the top of the foundation. The current was so strong that it tore the deck off the house and we couldn't safely use a rescue boat because of the strength of the current and the amount of debris and ice in the water."
A Canadian Forces Search and Rescue helicopter from CFB Greenwood arrived on the scene and airlifted the residents and their pets to the Bathurst Airport.
The Sainte-Anne Fire Department and Bathurst Fire Department also assisted in the five-hour rescue effort.
Many cottage and homeowners north of Fredericton remain on flood watch as dangerous ice jams have been forming on both the Nashwaak and St. John Rivers, north of Fredericton.
Yesterday, an ice jam that had formed overnight at Durham Bridge began to move, creating a major floe down the Nashwaak River.
"It happens every year," said Durham Bridge resident Stewart Brooks. "It's a 90 degree angle turn down there, and the ice just keeps building up on the bank and backing up."
The ice movement actually brought relief to a group of home and cottage owners just up the river. Wednesday night, they had only a few precious minutes to flee the area when the ice jam formed.
"Yesterday we were sitting on those picnic tables and in less than five minutes, we had to move," said area resident John Peters. "That's when the big water came in."
Peters' basement is flooded but the rest of his house received little damage in the flood. Still, he is concerned about what the next few days will bring.
"It all depends. If there's more ice jams coming, which they say there is upriver…we'll see what happens."
And in many rivers that are ice-free, water levels are on the rise.
"Floes have come up, there's no doubt about that," said Wilmot. "With the floes coming up, it's going to rupture the cover of ice, which weren't all that thick to begin with.
Typically, rain would be the biggest factor governing water levels and ice movement, but this year the unseasonably hot weather has caused a rapid snowmelt and ice jams.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron and The Canadian Press