FREDERICTON (GNB) – The annual River Watch program was launched today to provide New Brunswickers with information on the status of rivers, potential ice jams and other flood issues across the province during the coming weeks.

“Flood season occurs each year and, once again, we will be taking steps to monitor and warn people as waters rise, but those at risk should remain vigilant for the coming weeks,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin. “Multiple events in the past have shown the disastrous impact of flooding in our province. We want to remind all New Brunswickers living along watercourses to know the risks in their area, have an emergency plan, be prepared to deal with unexpected events, and listen to trustable sources of information.”

For the next several weeks, staff from the Department of Environment and Local Government and the Department of Justice and Public Safety’s New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization will be closely watching the melting of ice and snow around watercourses, particularly the Saint John River Basin. They will also get support from partners such as NB Power, watershed groups, and federal and provincial governments, as well as agencies in the United States.

“Accurate and timely information is essential to ensure people can take action to mitigate the impact of flooding,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman. “The province’s Hydrology Centre works diligently to ensure New Brunswickers have the information they need, when they need it. Staff will be working every day in collecting important data related to snow-water equivalency, rainfall amounts and the transition from winter to spring temperatures.”

Each morning, River Watch officials, including hydrology experts, receive a weather briefing and collect data from several sources to develop river models and forecasts, which will be made available online and on the River Watch mobile site.

When needed, flood and weather warnings will also be posted on the Emergency Measures Organization’s social media channels.

During the River Watch season, New Brunswickers are advised to:

  • be prepared for possible flooding and have a plan to evacuate and be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours;
  • move belongings to higher ground if their property is near a waterway or is in an area that is prone to flooding;
  • avoid the banks of waterways, as they become dangerous this time of year. The water is cold and currents are swift and could carry debris;
  • be aware that, as ice continues to deteriorate, it will become unsafe to cross waterways on foot, in cars, or on snowmobiles or ATVs;
  • call the River Watch toll-free number, 1-888-561-4048, to receive the latest recorded water levels, forecasts and public advisories;
  • call 511 for road closures and conditions or check online;
  • read helpful tips, the latest forecasts and public advisories by visiting the River Watch website, or by following the Emergency Measures Organization on Twitter and Facebook; and
  • report significant ice jams or rising water. If you need advice, contact the Emergency Measures Organization at 1-800-561-4034.

The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization co-ordinates preparedness for emergencies. It also co-ordinates provincial response and recovery operations during emergencies and administers disaster financial assistance programs.

Disaster financial assistance from the government is only available to help New Brunswickers for losses that could not be insured. Overland flood insurance is available. Contact your insurer for more information.