Flooding of The St. John River Reaches Historic Levels

May 11, 2018

Flooding in Northern Maine has been worse than usual this spring, thanks to late snows, a fast melt, and ice-choked rivers. And just over the national border, the flooding along the St. John River is being described as historic.

It has been days since 49-year-old Markus Harvey has been able to drive a car.

"I've been driving the last two weeks by tractor on the road between my place and up river,” he says. “From my place downriver, there is no vehicles.”

Harvey says that he is one of about 20 residents who decided to hunker down in the water-logged farming community of Maugerville.

"What we have here is local farmers would come up in boats, park on my front lawn and we would go from there down the road checking on neighbors and feeding the livestock and whatnot,” says Harvey.

Harvey says he built his home with flooding in mind, and was careful to store nothing but a hockey net in the cellar. Even so, his basement has flooded with raw sewage from a backed up septic system, something he expects to cost thousands of dollars to clean up.

On social media, residents along the river are posting pictures of recreational and camp properties being swept away, as well as swamped bridges, roads and homes.

On one flood support group on Facebook, residents were also trading photographs of items lost and found in the flood waters. One man reported that his hot tub had disappeared from his home near Fredericton. It was later found bobbing along in the city of Saint John, 70 miles away.

At Fredericton, the St. John River fell below flood stage for the first time in two weeks on Friday, but at the city of Saint John, the river is expected to stay in flood stage until some time on Monday.

Geoffrey Downey with the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization says the highway between Fredericton and Moncton was opened Friday but that recovery is still a good way off.

"In a lot of cases we're still trying to test roads and bridges for example to make sure they're safe for travelers,” Downey says. “So, nothing's been done in terms of calculating the cost but it's going to be significant - there's no doubt about that."

The Canadian Red Cross reports that more than 1600 people have been displaced.

In Northern Maine, several families were displaced, at least 35 homes suffered flood damage and at least six structures were taken off their foundations by ice jams.

Officials with the Aroostook Emergency Management Agency say that clean up efforts are underway, and staff is ready to respond if New Brunswick needs more assistance.