Evacuations continue as New Brunswick river floods

Fri May 2, 2008 6:23pm EDT
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FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (Reuters) - A flooded Saint John River played havoc with the Canadian province of New Brunswick again on Friday, forcing hundreds from their homes and sending a house floating down the waterway.

Schools and roads were closed and water covered the streets in the provincial capital of Fredericton for a second day as the crest of the flood slowly made its way down the river to the Atlantic Coast.

CBC television broadcast video taken by a local resident that showed a house being carried by the flood waters.

"There is a lot of flooded area ... a lot of homes under water," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said after a helicopter tour of the area. "People seem to be handling it well."

More than 600 residents have been evacuated, most in Fredericton and in towns in northern New Brunswick, and evacuations are continuing, said Valerie Kilfoil of the provincial emergency measures organization.

No deaths have been reported because of the flooding in western New Brunswick or northern Maine, where the Saint John River also forced evacuations this week and closed two border crossings.

Water levels were stabilizing in northern New Brunswick early on Friday afternoon, and were expected to decline around Fredericton on Saturday.

A Reuters photographer watched as residents used canoes to reach their flooded houses and businesses. The swift current also made it difficult for military engineers, who were using their boats to help with evacuations.

Downstream water levels have not yet hit their expected peak levels, Kilfoil said, which means New Brunswick communities such as Maugerville and Saint John are still bracing for floods.   Continued...

<p>Floodwater surrounds a neighbourhood in the north end Fredericton, New Brunswick May 1, 2008. Melting snow and heavy rain resulted in the St. John River flooding low lying communities throughout the province. REUTERS/Paul Darrow</p>