Concerns about dam prompt evacuations in New Brunswick community

Concerns about dam after heavy rain prompt evacuations in New Brunswick community. Image Credit: The Globe and Mail

 

 More than 100 people in the small southern New Brunswick community of Musquash have been evacuated from their homes due to concerns about the water level at the nearby East Branch dam, according to a spokesperson for the province’s Emergency Measures Organization.

Robert Duguay said 113 residents of Musquash were asked to leave their homes on Saturday night as a precaution because of the high water levels in the dam, which had already receded as of Sunday morning.

Provincial officials have inspected the dam and did not find signs of damage, said Duguay, and are reassessing the situation on Sunday to determine when residents can return to their homes.

“The evaluation made last night and this morning didn’t give any sign of concern regarding the infrastructure itself,” he said. “The only concern was the level of water going up.”

Some areas of New Brunswick have been deluged by more than 100 millimetres of rain since Saturday, causing localized flooding and water levels at the dam to rise to near capacity.

Philip Melanson, deputy chief of the Musquash Fire and Rescue Department, said firefighters and RCMP officers began knocking on doors at around 9 p.m. on Saturday and telling people to pack enough belongings for two days.

He said many of the evacuees were registered at the Carleton Kirk community centre in Saint John, about a 15-minute drive from Musquash.

Allie Murchison, disaster management co-ordinator with the Canadian Red Cross, said 87 of the residents were put up in a hotel in Saint John and the rest stayed with family and friends for the night.

“(Provincial officials) thought, ‘Better be safe than sorry,” said Murchison. “Might as well get those people out before they get trapped.”

Town officials in Sussex, N.B., advised residents on a few streets to evacuate their homes on Saturday, but Murchison said none of them showed up at a reception centre the Red Cross set up, so volunteers shut it down.

The Red Cross is on standby in Moncton and Saint John, she said.

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