N.B. campground opening delayed due to flood damage
The historic flooding of recent weeks has left significant damage that will take weeks to repair, including at a family owned campsite that has been located on the river for more than half a century.
Repairing roads is not how Howard Hearns usually spends his Victoria Day weekend.
"I'd be parking RV's, one after the other. Trailers would be rolling both lanes here," says Hearns, who owns Hardings Point Campground in Carters Point, N.B.
But the campground he's operated for 58 years is not open for business, and Hearns is spending the long weekend tallying the damage.
"The time for you replace all these components and the labour to do it, it's cheaper to put a new box in," says Hearns as he examines burnt out light fixtures on the campground.
Even if Hearns had the parts to fix the light fixtures, he says installing them would be another issue.
"You can't get electricians. They're all tied up reconnecting power, and thy're not available," says Hearns.
Many businesses along the St. John River spent the May long weekend cleaning up, rather than opening up for the season. That includes Hardings Point Campground which was hit hard by flooding.
"There were whirlpools in here, from the current outside on the river, because the water level was so high." says Hudson Hearns, Howard's son. “It got to the point where I could not be in here anymore, even with hipwarders. It was too much water, you could feel the current around your legs,"
The building that is home to the campgrounds convenience store has stood since the Loyalist era. The original stone wall dates back to 1785, and for the first time anyone can remember, it has been damaged by flooding.
Under the government's Disaster Assistance Program, homeowners can get up to $160,000 to cover flood related costs, and small businesses up to $500,000.
But Heans doesn't know if he'll qualify for assistance. And though the campground is still closed, reservations are starting to roll in for the summer.
"I had to get new phones because they were written off. Aliant came and put in new phones and new boxes, and the phones started to ring steady the other day," says Heans.
But there is some good news. The campgrounds convenience store is finally drying out.
"The first couple of days when we got in here with the mud and sludge on the floors, it was discouraging. But we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," says Hudson Heans.
So much so that the campground now plans on opening next Monday, May 28.
A lot of businesses along the river that were supposed to be opening this weekend are instead spending thousands of dollars on clean-up and recovery, and hoping some of those costs will be covered by insurance or the government's Disaster Assistance Fund.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron.