FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government has launched the Disaster Financial Assistance program to help businesses, municipalities and individuals who have suffered damage during the current flood.
Premier Brian Gallant says damage has already been reported and is likely to get worse in the days ahead.
“Disaster financial assistance will be available to help ease the financial burden for residents who have been impacted by the flood,” Gallant said.
The maximum assistance for private homes is $160,000, and $500,000 for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
Coverage is provided to repair and clean structures and to replace basic necessities, but is not available for recreational properties.
Water levels along the Saint John River in southern New Brunswick continue to rise and Emergency Measures officials are urging residents in flood-prone areas to evacuate their homes.
Oromocto fire Chief Jody Price said boats are being used to rescue people from homes across the river in Maugerville, and the longer people wait to leave, the harder it is to get to them.
“The higher the water gets — and it has been a continual rise — it is more difficult for us. We went from Friday, when we could get people out of there with vehicles, to today where we can’t go over there without a boat,” Price said.
And unless it’s an emergency, Price said people need to be moved during the daylight hours.
“We don’t send our boats and our crews in after dark for the safety of our crews. We need to move people out of there in the day time. We are urging people if you want to come out, or are thinking about coming out, then we need you to come out now,” he said.
Price said the levels of the floodwaters are the highest he’s ever seen.
Further down river, people in Grand Bay-Westfield were filling sandbags and trying to protect homes Wednesday afternoon with officials expecting a significant rise in water levels over the next few days.
Cooke Aquaculture is sending a truck loaded with 10,000 sandbags to Grand Bay-Westfield to support flood relief efforts. The company in Blacks Harbour also has boats and equipment on standby to assist, if needed.
In Saint John, the huge volumes of water in the river can only release into the Bay of Fundy at low tide, but even high tides have met their match this week against the strong currents at the city’s Reversing Falls.
Saint John resident Graeme Scott’s home overlooks the convergence of the Saint John and Kennebecasis rivers.
Scott said he’s safe because he lives on a hill, but he’s not so sure about many of his neighbours who live down and across the street.
He said their houses are tucked into the hillside with one storey on the street and two storeys facing the water side.
“Some of their foundations are probably getting within a foot or so (of the water) and there are some people on the point that have done a bunch of sandbagging yesterday around the front of the houses,” said Scott.
“It’s right at the max of what we’ve seen before.”
The Canadian Press