Flash flooding, power outages, school closures hit NB

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Thursday night’s heavy rain and high winds have caused flash flooding and power outages in some communities across the province.

Several dozen houses were evacuated in riverfront areas of Sussex around 1 a.m. The Canadian Red Cross placed 17 people in emergency lodging at area hotels.

The town’s emergency control group opened an emergency shelter at Kingswood University late last night. The shelter was released early this morning.

A report on the Sussex town website from this morning says water levels reached their peak last night and are trending downward.

In Moncton, eight people were forced to flee an apartment building after powerful winds tore away part of the roof. The Canadian Red Cross has provided emergency lodging and meals for several days. There were no injuries reported form the roof damage.

Almost 6,000 NB Power customers are without power as of 6 a.m. Friday morning, most in the Kennebecasis Valley Fundy, Central York Sunbury and Kings/Queens regions.

In the Anglophone South School District, schools are closed Friday in Apohaqui, Norton, and Sussex Corner.
Elsewhere in the district all buses are running on a one-hour delay.

Schools are also closed across the Anglophone North and Francophone Northeast school districts.

In Anglophone West, schools are closed in Zones 5 through 9. That includes the Stanley, Boiestown, Doaktown area, the Greater Fredericton area – including New Maryland, Keswick Ridge and Nashwaak Valley, Lincoln, Oromocto, Burton, Geary, and Fredericton Junction, Chipman and Minto and Gagetown and Cambridge Narrows.

In Francophone South, schools are closed in Baie-Ste-Anne, Fredericton, Miramichi, Oromocto, Richibucto, Rogersville, and St-Louis-de-Kent.

On the highways, the transportation department is reporting conditions are much improved across the south.

The no-travel advisory has finally been lifted on the Trans Canada between the Grand Lake area and Moncton.

Most highways are bare wet, with some icy and slushy patches.

In the north, parts of Route 2 and Route 11 are snow covered or snow packed, with ice and slush.

Miramichi city police urged people to stay off city streets last night because of « extreme flooding. » 

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BC Hydro expects power outages to continue Christmas Day in some areas

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BC Hydro is sending more crews to help restore power on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands, as more than 24,000 customers are still without power.

The utility says it has 800 personnel working around the clock, but despite that, some people will still be without power for days.

« Unfortunately, we will have some customers out in the most severe hit areas through Christmas Day, » said Tanya Fish, spokesperson for BC Hydro.

A few hundred customers are still without power in the Hope and Pemberton areas, but they were expected to be back on the grid later Monday.

‘They’re working around the clock and they are working in challenging, often dangerous conditions,’ said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. (Michael Laviolette/Facebook)

As of noon PT Monday, BC Hydro said the following communities will likely be without power on Christmas Day:

  • Bamfield/West Bamfield/Nitinat
  • Thetis Island/Penelakut Island
  • Protection Island
  • Parker Island

Crews from other parts of the province, as well as Alberta and the East Coast, have also been brought in.

At the height of Thursday’s massive windstorm, almost 400,000 customers were without power.

One of the challenges for Hydro crews is the number of trees that have been downed and are blocking roads and side streets, making it difficult to access some neighbourhoods.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said it’s too early to say what the cleanup and response will cost, but repairing the damage will be expensive.

« What’s amazing is that you’ve got men and women who are giving up their Christmas holidays, » said Farnworth. « They’re working around the clock and they are working in challenging, often dangerous conditions. »

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Military investigating series of fires, power outages on board naval vessels

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The Canadian military is investigating a rash of fires and power outages on board several naval ships, but says preliminary indications are that there are no connections among the various incidents.

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea near Europe. One of those frigates and a coastal-defence ship in the Pacific also experienced power outages.

Crew members were able to put out the fires quickly and restore power in each incident. A senior navy officer said there were no injuries and the problems had little impact on the vessels’ missions.

Navy Capt. Trevor MacLean, chief of staff to the commander of maritime operations, said initial investigations have also failed to uncover any links among the various incidents.

There was also no indication that the problems on the two frigates, HMCS Halifax and Toronto, were connected to a series of recent technical upgrades that all 12 of the navy’s frigates have undergone in the past few years, he said.

« The initial returns from those investigations are indicating that there is absolutely no relationship between these four incidents and it was really just coincidental that they happened in such a short period of time, » MacLean said.

Still, MacLean acknowledged the sheer number of incidents was both unprecedented and of great concern to the navy, and said more detailed investigations will be conducted in the coming weeks.

‘Highest concentration’ in a long time 

The problems started when a fire broke out in an engine room on HMCS Halifax on Oct. 26 as the frigate was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Norway. A clogged drain in the engine enclosure is believed to have been the culprit.

Three days later, HMCS Toronto lost power while patrolling off Britain. Power was restored, but a fire broke out in the engine room after the ship docked in Belfast. Indications are that a tank overflow, likely caused by the power outage, was to blame.

While HMCS Halifax escaped without significant damage and remains deployed, MacLean said HMCS Toronto is heading back to Canada and that the affected engine is « quarantined, » meaning it can only be used in an emergency.

The most recent incident came Monday, when the coastal-defence ship HMCS Edmonton also lost power while involved in a U.S.-led drug-interdiction mission in the Pacific. Power was quickly restored and Edmonton later intercepted an illegal drug shipment.

« To the best of my knowledge, this is definitely the highest concentration I’ve seen in this short a time, » MacLean said. « But the great thing we did see is we didn’t skip a beat on operations. »

Fires have caused significant damage — and even death — on board Canadian navy ships in the past.

Crew members on board HMCS Protecteur spent 11 desperate hours fighting a fire on their navy resupply ship in 2014, while 21 sailors on HMCS Ottawa were treated for minor injuries in 2004 after a blaze on the frigate.

And navy Lt. Chris Saunders died and three fellow crewmates were treated for serious injuries after a fire on board the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi while traversing the Atlantic in 2004.

Retired navy captain Harry Harsch said the type of fires that struck HMCS Toronto and Halifax aren’t common, but do happen, and he expected a detailed investigation to identify the causes and ensure they don’t happen again.

« Fire at sea, that’s the one thing everyone takes very seriously, » he said.

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