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Sussex, N.B., officials say they have a solution to address flooding concerns

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Saturday brought a vastly different picture to Sussex, New Brunswick following the flash flooding the town experienced late last week.

“If you weren’t from this area and you drive through the community now you’d wonder ‘what’s going on’ because it doesn’t look bad at all, but we’ve got a lot of people with a lot of damage and they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them,” said Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Hatcher.

On Saturday, sump-pumps were still pulling water out of a number of impacted basements, dumpsters lined the roads and a number of residents were still cleaning up the mess that was left behind.

Hatcher says the town is currently in a clean-up and recovery mode.

“The latest information we have is [Friday] evening we had 27 families displaced out of their homes, 36 beneficiaries that were requiring food and lodging, that number is now down to three and hopefully later [Saturday], perhaps early evening, they’re back in their own home,” he said.

Two multi-discipline teams from the province arrived on Saturday with a third expected early next week to help assess the damage, test structural integrity and ensure that effected homes and buildings are safe.

“Our experience in 2014, we’re going to be at it, emptying dumpsters for probably two weeks and the sad part of it is those home owners and even our infrastructure at the town, we’ll probably be at it for four, six maybe even eight months before we return to where we were last Tuesday,” said Hatcher.

The most hard-hit areas were the downtown core, subdivisions around Sullivan Park in Ward 2 and anywhere that is in close proximity to the river.

Water levels return to normal, but damage lingers following flash-flooding in Sussex. (Alana Pickrell/CTV Atlantic)

Hatcher says it’s disheartening to be cleaning up after another flood especially when the town developed a mitigation plan after the flooding in 2014 that they believe will stop the problem in the future.

However, it comes with a large price tag.

Hatcher says currently the town is asking for $15M worth of funding for the first part of the project that has a total price tag of $38M.

“We have a solution, the issue is that it’s out of our reach. $38M for a small rural community in New Brunswick of 6,000 people can’t be done without other levels of funding, so we’re hopeful that that’s there. Our application is currently under review,” he said.

“The other part of it is, is it’s a big project, so if we had the funding and I started tomorrow, it would take five years to complete so this could happen again in the midst of constructing a solution, but if we don’t solve it, we don’t survive.”

For now, residents are encouraged to register their properties for an inspection.

Hatcher is hopeful that once there is an estimate of damages collected, it will trigger a disaster financial assistance program through the provincial and federal governments to provide some help to those who are left cleaning up from the water damage.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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