OHS Canada Magazine

Flood waters in New Brunswick raise concerns for health and safety

May 6, 2018
By The Canadian Press
Environment/Climate Change Health & Safety Occupational Hygiene flood occupational health and safety Public Health & Safety

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Flood waters continue to rise in southern New Brunswick, and so do concerns for health and safety.

Kevin Clifford, the director of Emergency Management for Saint John, said water levels in the city were expected to peak around 5.9 metres today – or about 1.7 metres above flood stage.

He cautioned people about being in contact with the flood waters.

“Certainly people understand the water looks different. It looks brown and it’s certainly contaminated with a whole host of things,” he said.

The provincial Emergency Measures Organization issued warnings for people who have private well water supplies affected by flooding, saying they should not be used until they have been disinfected and tested.


“If you think that your well may be affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals, you should not use water from the well for any purpose whatsoever – even if it has been boiled,” the warning reads.

In the town of Rothesay, officials cautioned residents that the sanitary and storm sewer systems are full because of the flooding.

“There is no capacity to receive more fluid so sewer backups are very likely if you use your plumbing (and maybe even if you don’t),” their statement reads. “The Town sewer system works on gravity and flows to the lagoons for treatment. The lagoons have flooded and are overflowing into the river. As the water level rises, there is a potential for backup into the pipes. Your downstream neighbours will appreciate your restricted use until flood waters recede.”

Rising waters on Saturday cut off routes to the community of Chipman, and the four-lane Trans-Canada highway between Fredericton and Moncton remains closed due to flooding.

Emergency officials have repeatedly urged residents in flooded areas to evacuate their homes, but many are staying put – using sandbags and pumps to protect their properties.

Premier Brian Gallant filled sandbags in the community of Quispamsis Saturday, while Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc surveyed the flood zone by helicopter.

The New Brunswick MP later said the level of the water and the amount of damage was unprecedented.

The Coast Guard deployed boats and staff to help with evacuations and patrols.

About 360 households, consisting of roughly 850 people, have registered with the Red Cross, however, not all of them have evacuated.

The flooding is also affecting wildlife, with deer and moose seen on roadways and spotted grazing in residential areas.

Copyright (c) 2018 The Canadian Press


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