Perth-Andover lifts evacuation order as immediate flood risk diminishes
Residents of Perth-Andover, N.B. are being allowed to return to their homes after the mandatory evacuation order prompted by flooding concerns was lifted on Monday.
A state of emergency remains in effect in the western New Brunswick village, in case an evacuation order needs to be re-issued, but officials say the risk of flooding is now low.
“We’re telling residents if they’re with family or friends, maybe to stay another night just to be safe, but people are allowed into their homes,” said Justine Waldeck, information officer for Perth-Andover.
Large chunks of ice and debris choked the flow of water down the neighbouring St. John River for much of the weekend, prompted the evacuation order which affected nearly 300 people.
Officials say a 10-kilometre stretch of pack icestill sitting upriver, above the Grand Falls Gorge, is a concern, but not an urgent one.
“When it comes down through the community it won’t be huge two-foot-thick chunks of ice like we saw the other day,” said Dan Dionne, the village’s chief administrative officer.
Premier Brian Gallant visited the village on Monday to meet with volunteers and local officials, but declined to offer opinions on measures like river dredging or ice breakers.
“I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to that, so we want to work with people in the community,” Gallant said.
Some people in the community, however, are losing patience with a perceived lack of action.
“It’s getting a bit ridiculous, all this evacuating the town every year,” said local resident Jennifer Eagan.
Eagan operates a special care home, and for the second year has had a berm constructed around the building.
Aside from removing some buildings, not enough flood prevention has been done on the river itself, she said.
“Nothing ever seems to get done. They do studies upon studies upon studies,” she said.
“I definitely think an ice breaker (could help), for sure: take the ice out of the river before it jams up,” she said.
The area is not new to the risk posed by flooding.
In 2012, a flood destroyed 75 buildings in the community, prompting some homes to be relocated to higher ground.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore