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Fredericton deals with messy storm aftermath – prepares for more
FREDERICTON -- A messy combination of heavy rain, hail, and high winds made for a dangerous night for emergency crews in Fredericton on Friday night. While many residents dealt with the aftermath on Saturday morning, the forecast for Saturday night isn't much better.
On Friday night, the spring storm ripped through the capital city with hurricane-force winds, knocking down trees and leaving thousands of residents without power; meanwhile, rainfall turned some roads into rivers.
Short, but impactful
"Last night, at about 6:30, we were sitting out on our front porch having supper when it became very, very dark," says resident, Heather Bower. "Within minutes, there was a lot of rain, heavy wind and lightning."
Residents note the stormy weather didn't last long – but it was powerful.
"There was a bit of hail hitting the car, and it was like really heavy rain," says resident Johnathan Sonier. "The wind was blowing super strong, and the waves on the river were just super rough."
On Saturday, city crews spent the day cleaning up what the storm left behind, which included debris on nearly every corner, in addition to approximately 50 downed trees blocking roadways.
"Our crews were out until midnight last night, and were back out again first thing this morning," says city spokesperson, Wayne Knorr. "Their priority, right now, is that streets do get reopened."
At the height of the storm, nearly 1,300 NB Power customers were off the grid. Including, tenants at an apartment building that caught fire on George Street.
"A tree came down on the power line, broke the mast right off, caused electrical short, and caused the fire," says assistant deputy chief of the Fredericton Fire Department, David McKinley.
At least six tenants living at the complex were displaced and are being assisted by the Canadian Red Cross.
Observing the destruction
Following the destructive storm, curious residents left the comfort of their homes on Saturday to see what damage had been done.
"This is the worst damage I've seen since Hurricane Arthur in 2014," says Sonier. "I said to my husband, 'I certainly hope this isn't Arthur all over again.'"
While the damage was widespread, the south side of the city was hit the hardest as heavy rain caused additional damage.
"There was some damage to our city streets caused by the water flowing down the hill area," says Knorr.
Making matters even more complicated, firefighters say the limited visibility made it difficult for emergency crews to do their job during the storm.
"Last night, it was a situation where we had hurricane-force winds for a bit, so you could not see hardly when you came out of the station," says McKinley. "So last night, calls were coming in, and you could hardly see in front of the vehicle when you were driving – it was like a river coming down York Street."
Meanwhile, as crews continue to clean up what the storm left behind, they are asking residents to practice patience, as cleanup efforts will take weeks – especially in parks, where there are more fallen trees. Additionally, more rain is in the forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.