Assessing the flooding in New Brunswick
The swollen St John River caused some of the worst flooding ever seen by residents of the province of New Brunswick last week and with about 1,000 residents of the Fredericton area having fled their homes IFAW sent an assessment team to the area to determine if there were animals in need of our assistance.
We arrived Friday morning to find schools, businesses and many roads closed. The lower lying sections of the city were underwater and a house could be seen floating down the river. There was a buzz in the air about news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was scheduled to come and have a look at the flooding that afternoon. As we toured the area we saw the Prime Minister’s helicopter overhead as he was en-route to the outlying rural areas of Sheffield and Maugerville. We’d heard from officials in Fredericton that there may be some wildlife and livestock concerns in those areas so we set out to have a first hand look.
Our frustrations began early as the first road we tried to use to access the area was blocked due to the flooding. We continued on, trying other routes and had to turn back twice more as all roads leading to these areas east of Fredericton were washed out by the massive flooding. After speaking to some helpful local residents we realized that the only way into those areas was by boat. We were able to view the areas from across the river and did see some house to house rescue by boat taking place. We began making a series of calls to Emergency Management Officials offering our services, explaining that we had boats, animal transportation and communications trailers and a team of well trained Responders that would assist if needed but were told that things were under control and although they appreciated that we were available they did not need us at that time.
With no requests from the Emergency Operations Centre coming by later that evening we drove to St John which was expected to have problems Saturday and the large volume of water causing problems in the St John River moved downstream toward the Bay of Fundy.
On Saturday morning we toured the city of St John which was quickly flooding in low lying areas. Residents were desperately filling sandbags as the river was rising dramatically in front of their eyes. We stopped in at the Red Cross shelter and met with Emergency Officials who again told us people were taking care of their pets and there were no other animal concerns.
We left the area feeling like we had knocked on every door and made every phone call we could letting those in charge know that IFAW’s Emergency Relief Team was ready and able to help in any capacity. We will remain ready to go if and when that phone calls in.