Friday, May 04, 2018

Coast guard poised to assist New Brunswick EMO with flood response

11 staff and 4 emergency response vessels are in Saint John, ready to be deployed

Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon · CBC News · Posted: May 04, 2018 3:35 PM AT | Last Updated: 34 minutes ago

The Canadian Coast Guard has mobilized in Saint John and is ready to assist the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization with record-breaking flooding in the region.

The exact role and destination of the 11 staff and four vessels has not yet been determined, said Keith Laidlaw, deputy superintendent of environmental response for the Atlantic region.

"We are just arriving on site and standing up our staging area," he told CBC News shortly before noon at the coast guard depot on Navy Way.

"Once we get into the [emergency operations centre] and set up our own command, we'll be better equipped to understand what our role here will be."

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New Brunswick calls in coast guard to help flood relief effort
But the emergency response vessels are on trailers at the depot, available to deploy.

Some other vessels were dispatched earlier to the Grand Lake area, said Laidlaw.

The boats are flat-bottom landing craft that can operate in shallow waters and carry payloads, he said.

"Our operators are very familiar with … beaching these vessels and lowering the bow gates to deploy people or to recover people or to recover materials."

Mid-size boats need "a substantial boat launch," such as a yacht club, but the smaller, 18-footer can launch from a smaller site, he said.

A seven-ton boom truck can also be used to lift the boats into the water if no boat ramp is available.

Premier Brian Gallant announced Thursday that the province had enlisted the help of the coast guard after a week of severe flooding.

In Saint John, the St. John River reached the 1973 high mark of 5.4 metres during high tide early Thursday morning. The flood stage is 4.2 metres.

The water level is expected to peak at 5.9 metres on Monday.