Married retired geologists examine rainfall records in effort to explain N.B. flooding
Published Friday, May 10, 2019 6:35PM ADT
As flood-weary New Brunswickers continue to recover, two consecutive years of ‘once in a lifetime’ flooding have a lot of people searching for answers.
An image of a flooded bed and breakfast in Gagetown, N.B. has become one of the enduring images of two years of record-breaking flooding in New Brunswick.
But Bruce and Marion Langhus, the owners of Lang House Bed & Breakfast, are attempting to understand the flooding from a different perspective.
“I think its human nature, globally, that people want to find a cause,” says Marion Langhus.
The Langhus’ are both retired geologists who have spent months studying the past century of April rainfall records in Northern N.B.
“You’ve got an increase in the volume of rain of 100%. It is twice as much as it was in 1920, it’s almost twice as much as what it was in 1980, and so that volume of water has to go somewhere,” explains Bruce Langhus.
Langhus says that water is surrounding buildings and going into basements and covering roads. He says the trend has accelerated, with the steepest increase in April rainfall in the past decade.
“Some people may jump in and say, ‘that’s the forest practices that add to it’,” says Marion Langhus. “But up until now, I don’t think people have been saying, ‘oh, it’s twice the rainfall’, but it is.”
The Langhus’ are not dismissing the possibility that other factors may also contribute to the flooding, but after crunching the numbers for rainfall in Northern N.B. and Northern Maine, they say it goes a long way to explaining why the province is going through record-breaking flooding for the second straight year.
The N.B. government is also examining some of the causes of the flooding, but in the meantime, the province’s Emergency Measures Organization is trying to continue to educate the public on preparing for future flooding.
“Should we expect the same magnitude of flooding every spring? I have no idea,” says Greg MacCallum, director of the N.B. EMO. “But if you’re prepared for something and it doesn’t happen, great. But if it does happen, at least you’re prepared for it.”
The Langhus’ agree that nothing should be ruled out going forward.
“Whether or not all of our freshets in the next ten years are going to be like what we’ve seen, I can’t tell you,” says Bruce Langhus. “But I would say, some of them are going to be less than that, and some are going to be bigger than that.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.