Thursday, December 18th0.2°C
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Floods cause evacuations

Rain, melting snow and ice jams forced waters in parts of Eastern Canada to rise Wednesday, submerging roads, filling basements and prompting hundreds to be evacuated from their homes as officials told people to prepare in case they had to seek higher ground.

From Atlantic Canada to Ontario, rivers overflowed and in some cases, water levels rose to heights some said they hadn't seen in years. Many roads were flooded and in New Brunswick, the RCMP urged people not to attempt driving through those areas.

"It's devastating," said Marc Thorne, mayor of the southern New Brunswick town of Sussex, where dozens of homes were flooded, including his own where has lived for 22 years.

"The Trout Creek has breached its banks at a height we haven't seen in many decades and a lot of subdivisions in town are impacted."

Premier David Alward was scheduled to go to Sussex on Thursday to meet with his public safety minister at Kingswood University, where some of those evacuated from their homes have taken shelter.

The neighbouring village of Sussex Corner declared a state of emergency as the floods made some roads impassable, but that was later rescinded as water levels receded.

Still, officials stressed that the flood situation was constantly changing and they told residents to remain alert.

"We can't predict what's going to happen," said Danny Soucy, New Brunswick's local government minister.

"That's why we keep telling people to make sure that they don't go near bodies of water, and if they live near bodies of water to watch what's happening and if anything changes they can get out fast and be secure."

In Quebec, outgoing premier Pauline Marois met with her successor, Philippe Couillard, on Wednesday for the first time since the provincial election and said the first topic she brought up with him was the flooding that has hit various parts of the province.

"I want to reassure all Quebecers that the outgoing government will work with the new government to make sure the transition does not complicate matters," she said after presiding over her last cabinet meeting.

"I would also like to tell Quebecers who are experiencing this unfortunate situation that I am thinking of them with all my heart, as is my government."

More than 600 people were forced from their homes in Sherbrooke, Que., as the Saint-Francois River swelled. Officials there said the river reached as high as 7.6 metres — just short of the 7.9-metre record set in 1982 — but more than four times its normal level of 1.8 metres as Sherbrooke Mayor Bernard Sevigny urged residents to be careful and patient.

Evacuations were ordered in multiple locations in the province. In St-Raymond, just west of Quebec City, about 300 people were forced from their homes, including four residences for seniors because of flooding of the Sainte-Anne River.

Officials in Manitoba warned Wednesday that the prolonged cold spring will make flooding more likely for a few homes in Winnipeg. Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said the amount of ice in the water is pushing levels of the Red River up in south Winnipeg.

"The ice on the Red River is, in many cases, three feet-plus thick still," Ashton said.

The Canadian Press

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