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Water Today Title August 7, 2020

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Advisory of the day

Extreme weather


This story is brought to you in part by MUTS -Multi-Use Trailer System

Hoyt, New Brunswick was one of many communities that had to withstand the effects of inclement weather this past weekend.

The surge of flood waters saw the possible loss of a treasured landmark but residents were also able to get a measure of how strong their community is.

Located in between St. John and Fredericton, Hoyt is no stranger to floods but this one stood out.

"The river floods about twice a year but this one here was worse than any of the rest of them," said Eldon Howe, a retired forestry worker and truck driver who has lived in Hoyt for 74 years, "Water came up higher and came up faster. Years ago you never got them like that."

The way Hoyt was built can make it very difficult to get around when a flood occurs. Howe compared it to being on an island.

Some of the worst affected lived in the neighbourhood of Juvenile, located on the other side of the 38m long Bell Bridge, a famous covered bridge spanning the South Oromocto River that was badly damaged by this weekend's floods.

Built in 1931, it's one of 59 covered bridges still left in the province.

Also known as kissing bridges, many Hoyt residents would have fond memories of first loves, angling triumphs and summer swims at Bell Bridge. Those located in Juvenile will probably be looking for it to be replaced with something sturdier that can withstand what mother nature can throw at it.

"People are talking about protesting getting the covered bridge fixed," said Chantal Daigle, whose boyfriend lives in Juvenile.

Daigle who is seven months pregnant had to leave her car behind after being stranded on the other side of the bridge. The only way out is a dirt, side road that requires an all-terrain vehicle to traverse.

"It's sad that we lost a piece of the community but ultimately we just want a safe way in and out," said Daigle.

A dozen or so other houses share the neighbourhood, many of whom belong to the elderly.

"None of the emergency vehicles can access that area right now," said Daigle, "The fire department told us that if we needed anything, they would bring stuff through to us but as for emergencies everyone in Juvenile are on their own as ambulance and fire trucks can't make it there."

Estimates that the neighbourhood has been provided for when a replacement for the bridge will be up and running have been as long as six weeks.

Daigle, who might give birth before then, is staying with her father in Fredericton Junction.

Diana Conroy, whose family runs the Conroy Dairy farm was also caught unaware by the rising water.

She received word of the impending flood but wasn't overly concerned as she'd experienced floods before, since the farm is located in a valley.

Conroy first decided to remove some valuables, like her grandmother's sewing machine from her basement but every time she came back up the stairs, she noticed an alarming amount of water was seeping in.

"It was like somebody had turned on a faucet," she said, "Within two to three hours we were in the barn and couldn't get back to the house. We had managed to move all the cattle to higher ground but within five minutes of that the floor of the barn was covered."

Although they were able to save the animals, their property didn't fare so well and the Conroy were at a loss thinking of all the effort ahead of them in order to get the farm back to working order.

"We got here Sunday morning around 6am," she said, " It was just starting to get light and all of a sudden I see lights coming in the driveway. It was one truck, two trucks, three trucks, four trucks and more. Loaded with heaters and generators and tools and they just started to work."

Conroy said that someone took drone footage, where all the neighbours vehicles parked out front and around the barn can be seen.

"People are still dropping off food," she said, "Thank God as we'd be starving as we're so focused on getting back on track. It's just an amazing community."

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