N.B. island community won't get flood shuttle they've come to depend on
New Brunswick officials are warning people to prepare for flood-related road closures this weekend, leaving residents of one island community to wonder how they’ll manage without a government service they’ve come to depend on.
Darlings Island, N.B., outside of Saint John, has faced high water every spring, sometimes cutting off their community from the mainland.
In exceptionally wet years, the provincial government has provided a boat shuttle service — but not this year.
In a statement issued Friday, the government said that a shuttle poses major safety risks for first responders and residents, especially children.
But some Darlings Island residents suspect money is the reason the shuttle won’t be offered.
Resident Janet Kidd says, along with all the daily needs the shuttle addresses, the community also needs quick access to a shuttle in case of emergency.
“If you’re worried about the expense, it doesn’t have to be a non-stop shuttle. Even if it was on a little bit in the morning and in the evening, just at the rush hour times, that would suit most people,” Kidd said.
Some residents say similar services have been provided during floods as far back as the 1970s.
Usually it amounts to a small motorboat moving people back and forth for, at most, four or five days.
“It’s not only worked OK, it’s actually built community spirit,” said resident Donald Mitchener.
“People congregate at the wash-out, waiting for the boat. It’s built community and no one views it as a hardship. But there’s an expectation,” he said.
Residents are planning to meet on Monday night to decide whether to hire a private company to provide shuttle services.
One estimate pegs the cost at $1,000 per day.
For now, though, the road to Darlings Island remains open.
It was down to one lane on Friday, with rising water inching across the pavement.
The transportation department has placed barriers nearby in case the road needs to be closed this weekend.
And residents are watching closely.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron