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City Officials Call for Caution As Flood Closes 50 Streets

Photo of City Officials Call for Caution As Flood Closes 50 StreetsFredericton (May 1, 2008) - The St. John River rose to 8.33 metres and flowed over its banks and into the downtown Fredericton overnight, leaving most businesses along the river side of the city's main street closed and without power.

The Canadian Red Cross flood registration centre at the University of New Brunswick had 470 evacuees registered as of 11 a.m. today as those living in flood-prone areas heeded the warnings to evacuate their homes and seek shelter. The river is forecast to remain high for the next few days, going down slightly Friday to 8.2 metres and 7.7 by Saturday.

Police and fire department personnel as well as volunteer York Sunbury Search and Rescue crews worked late into the night to ensure the public's safety, manning barricades.

"We really appreciate the cooperation shown to-date by residents," said Mayor Brad Woodside. "I am also very impressed with the response to this emergency by all levels of government, the Red Cross, and our many partner groups."

More than 50 streets around the city are closed due to high waters, including off ramps on the city's two bridges. Traffic is still able to get to the Marysville bypass from the Princess Margaret Bridge. While the Main Street on ramp is open, traffic on the Westmorland Street Bridge can only exit from either Westmorland Street or the Ring Road. With the ramps closed, City emergency officials are calling on residents to avoid the downtown area and other hard-hit areas.

Riverside Drive is not passable from Gibson Street to the City border. You should stay away from the lower parts of Barkers Point and avoid the Lincoln Road. There is water over the roads in several sections. Waterloo Row is under water and is blocked at the Beaverbrook / Forest Hill Intersection and the walking bridge underpass. University Avenue has been barricaded at either end.

Traffic lights have been adjusted to ease the traffic out of the downtown.  Police officers will also assist in keeping traffic moving.  However, traffic will still be an issue and people who travel through the downtown should expect delays.

The City's Emergency Operations centre is asking the public to stay away from the downtown area unless you have to be there.

"Please respect the barricades," said Fire Chief Philip Toole, Chair of the City's Emergency Operations Centre. "They are there for your safety. Be careful if you are walking along river:  it is fast moving, cold, and full of debris. Boaters - please stay off the river."

The worst flood on record saw the river rise to 8.61 metres in 1973. The good news is that the weather is expected to remain clear with no rain in the forecast.

Registration centres remain open at UNB Fredericton, in McConnell Hall, 19 Bailey Avenue and at the

Oromocto Flood Command Post, 22 Rte 102, across from Burton Court House. You can also call 1-888-893-1300. The City's Emergency Operations Centre will remain staffed 24 hours a day. For non-emergency information call 460-2996.

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Media Contact: Wayne Knorr, Communications, City of Fredericton (506) 474-3389.

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