Saint Johners brace for flooding ahead of weekend rain storm

Emergency officials all over the region have been watching the forecast and preparing for the fallout from a weekend of heavy weather. 

Up to 100 millimetres of rain is expected to fall in southwestern New Brunswick

Linda Negus spent Friday with an ice-chipper trying to clear storm drains before the wet weather arrives.

“Flooding. That’s what it sounds like. And I want to get this before it comes,” says Negus.

Municipal crews are doing much the same, but on a larger scale. They’re trying to clean storm drains and clear a path for the water that’s coming to prevent localized flooding.

“We’ve got most of the basins open on the main drags, and hopefully it stays mild for a while today and tomorrow the rain comes and we hope everything it works.  But you don’t know until it happens,” says municipal worker Angus King.

Homeowners are urged to take precautions.

“If you’re prone to flooding, make sure that your sump pumps are operational,” says Mike Carr of Saint John EMO. “If the ice has blocked normal flow of water off your property, you need to open that up.”

Emergency response agencies have placed all of their volunteers on standby.

“It’s quite likely at least localized flooding, hopefully minimal,” says Bill Lawlor of the Canadian Red Cross. “Certainly power outages are likely, given the context of the storm that’s being predicted. We want to be as ready as possible”

There’s lots of water already covering the ice, but most of the sport fishermen have decided not to remove their shacks.

“There’s going to be a little bit more water on the ice and perhaps less ice, but there’s still 15 to 20 inches of ice so I think we’ll be alright,” says ice fisherman Fred Lane.

Some say this feels like an annual event.

“This is the January thaw, and every January thaw you have a low pressure system, that’s warm air that’s giving us all the rain,” says Mike Carr. “Immediately afterwards we’re going back to winter conditions, and that transition is usually called flash freeze. When that happens, where the water is, is where it’s going to stay and it’s going to freeze over.”

Emergency officials are reminding motorists that when the temperature drops, it could produce a layer of black ice.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.

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