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Officials watching over Saint John River

Officials are watching water levels rise on the Saint John River.
Officials are watching water levels rise on the Saint John River.

Jill Colton, staff writer

May 4, 2011 — Emergency measures officials are keeping a close eye on the swollen Saint John River in New Brunswick.

Flooding on the banks of the Saint John River on May 1.
Flooding on the banks of the Saint John River on May 1.

The favourable forecast last weekend helped keep the Saint John River below flood stage.

However, New Brunswick officials say homeowners aren't in the clear yet.

The swollen river has risen over the past few days, creeping up the banks to cover sections of Fredericton's Morrell Park and lapping at parts of the city's downtown walking trail.

“Swift water right now with the high water levels, erodes along the edge of the rivers. So therefore the edge that you think may be safe, may be eroded underneath and you make one step and fall into the rapid water...So the big thing is to be very cautious where you're walking. Certainly enjoy it, but stay within the distance,” says Don McCabe, Deputy Fire Chief with Moncton Fire Department.

“For parents, when you're out with your family, keep your eye out. Don't let them [your kids] get close to the water's edge, don't let them walk away, especially when the water levels are high...It doesn't take much when the current is pulling to pull you in.”

Heaviest rain expected in northern New Brunswick
Heaviest rain expected in northern New Brunswick

Karl Wilmot of the province's Emergency Measures Organization says water levels remain fairly consistent right now -- which is a good sign.

However, he says it's difficult to predict what the weather will do to the banks over the next few days.

The same system that has been bringing flooding rains to Quebec will continue to push east on Thursday. Between 40 and 60 mm of rain is possible for parts of northern New Brunswick.

Isolated flooding is expected for low lying areas and Wilmot says the river could reach flood stage in Fredericton over the weekend.

He says that happens when the river reaches 6.5 metres.

If water levels peak, people in flood prone areas should move whatever they can to higher ground.

Heavy rain can increase water levels without warning, and fast-moving water poses significant safety risks.

With files from Andrea Stockton

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