TRURO, N.S. -- Swollen by a day of heavy rain, two Nova Scotia rivers spilled their banks Monday as several dikes gave way, leading to flooding that caught some residents in the Truro area by surprise.

Jim Chipman of Bible Hill said he went to Tim Hortons in the morning and by the time he had his coffee, his home near the Salmon River was surrounded by water.

Dozens of other homes and businesses were flooded, including 40 homes on one street alone.

"They say this is worse than usual," said Chipman, 53, who has been through several floods. "This one is pretty bad."

He watched the raging river from a bridge where police set up a roadblock to prevent traffic from entering the community.

"I guess we'll have to see if they let us go home. If not, we're going to have to find different lodging for the night," he added.

"I'm not the only one. There's people here with children and that'll be a little hard on them."

Mayor Bob Taylor of the Municipality of the County of Colchester said 22 people had come to emergency shelters in a local church and the Bible Hill Fire Department, and six people had registered to stay overnight.

Water levels began rising early Monday in the North and Salmon rivers near Truro, which remained under a rainfall warning as tropical storm Leslie churned toward Atlantic Canada.

Taylor said dikes on both rivers gave way, flooding some roads in Truro and the adjoining village of Bible Hill.

"It looks like a big pond," Taylor said in an interview.

Taylor said some people were asked to voluntarily leave their homes, but only a few chose to do so. A high school was evacuated before lunch as a precaution.

Bethany Walsh, 20, a college student, was anxiously awaiting word if she'd have to leave her home next to the fast-moving Salmon River as water began moving into her backyard.

"One of the dikes broke again. It's the worst it's been," she said. "I am concerned. It's our first house."

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said up to 100 millimetres of rain was expected over eastern mainland Nova Scotia by Tuesday.

With more rain in the forecast, Taylor said officials were keeping a close on the rivers.

There were concerns that the flooding would get worse Monday night when the high tides in the Bay of Fundy were expected to add another surge of water upstream.

But it didn't happen.

"It's subsided quite a bit," said Taylor. "We think we're by the worst part of it ... It's going to be a while before it all goes away, but the worst part of it is over."

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry, who is also responsible for the province's Emergency Management Organization, visited a flooded area of Bible Hill and spoke to a restaurant owner whose basement had two metres of water in it.

"It definitely is a concern because of people's livelihoods being negatively impacted," he said.

Lenore Zann, the NDP member of the legislature for the riding of Truro-Bible Hill, said her own basement flooded at 2:30 a.m. Monday and the bottom of her street was closed.