A summer of drought-like conditions came to an abrupt end in southern New Brunswick on Thursday.   

In a matter of hours, the Saint John area went from dry to drenched – and then some.

The rain and thunderstorms were also more than a little-unnerving for one family.   

“Got to invest in a new clothes-pin bag,” said Saint John resident Holly Giroux.

The clothes-pin bag was attached to the clothes line at Giroux's house until Thursday morning, when lightning came up the line and hit the house.

“This happened so quick,” said Giroux. “I came home from work it was pouring and raining. Just a little thunder in the distance.  I said, no problem, so I came up the back stairs.”

Giroux had just got into the house when the storm hit.

“All of a sudden, kaboom!” she said. “I jumped up and I said ‘what happened?’ He said, ‘we got struck by lightning.’  Oh my god. Oh my god, I smell fire, so we called 911.”

There was no fire, but a few doors down, Saint John Energy crews were repairing transformers that had also been blown out in the storm.

It was all a little too close for a cousin visiting from British Columbia.

“All of a sudden you just felt this boom, tingling through my body, right to the end of my feet,” said Terri Tuley. “I sat straight up, looked out the window and a big huge flash.   Mike came running down the hall said, ‘we just got hit by lightning’ and I said, ‘yeah, we did.’”

It was about this time that the torrential rain started creating chaos in rush-hour traffic. Flash-flooding in several neighbourhoods made key roads impassable.

City workers rushed to put barricades in place while some motorists braved the rising water.

“You usually see 20 or 30 millimeters over a couple of hours, not in twenty minutes,” said Geoff Spear, the manager at the Rockwood Park Campground.

Spear says the campground needed the moisture to soak in, but that wasn't the case today.

“The ground is so dry, a lot of it just ran off instead of soaking into the ground, especially if it was on a slope,” he said.

In east Saint John, the Girouxs say there’s no point crying over spilled clothes pins. In fact, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

“I was just standing in the spot where lightning struck, over there by the light,” said Giroux. “If I hadn't moved, I wouldn't be here telling the story.”

The Saint John area needed rain because the city had just come through the driest month in 50 years. But, it would have been more helpful had that rain come over a few days, as opposed to a couple of hours.  

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.