Cleanup began along New Brunswick's storm-ravaged east coast Thursday, with early damage estimates already climbing into the millions of dollars.
As floodwaters retreated, they revealed destroyed wharfs, crumbled sea walls, flooded basements and some damaged coastal roads that could remain closed until spring.
In hard-hit Shediac, the high winds and storm surge destroyed a large marina, washed away dunes at nearby Parlee beach and forced about 40 mobile-home owners to move their trailers from a flood-prone park.
“Everyone’s trying to get into the festive mood but right now Santa's in second place,” said Mayor Raymond Cormier after surveying the damage. “Our fire department and pumps have been quite active over the past two days helping people get water out of their basements.”
Further up the coast in Rexton, a number of homes were flooded but there was no discernible damage to roads or bridges. Mayor David Hanson said most residents were trying to keep some humour as Christmas approaches, but they were beginning to find the string of damaging storms worrisome.
“I live up the river a couple of houses away from the bridge and it's the first time I've seen waves coming into my backyard,” Mr. Hanson said.
Emergency-measures officials urged people with damage from the storm surge to contact Service New Brunswick offices to file disaster relief claims.
The storm surge, the third major storm to hit the province in as many weeks, follows flood damage caused by heavy rains along the St. John River and the St. Stephen area earlier this month.
In Prince Edward Island, the storm led to several bridge and beach closures, and there was also road damage in Cape Breton.
Although Environment Canada has ended its weather warnings for most of Atlantic Canada, the effects of wind and rain are expected to be felt for another day or so.
Health-and-safety inspection teams fanned out in stricken areas of New Brunswick to determine the level of property damage and, mindful of the holidays, get people back into their homes as quickly as possible. By early Thursday, about 700 reports of property damage had been filed.
Ernie MacGillivray, New Brunswick's director of emergency services, said the latest system hit the eastern coast of the province hard. The breakwater and Fishermen's Co-op building in Baie Ste. Anne were destroyed, and large sand dunes at an ecology park were washed away.
“We actually had one instance where there was armour stone, these are 10-tonne blocks, picked up by the waves and carried across the road, and the shoulder of the road is now the beach,” he said.
Mr. MacGillivray said immediate needs for shelter and access have been addressed, but the real infrastructure repair work lies ahead. “We've made emergency repairs and that's all about enabling safe access. There will have to be a very major undertaking in the spring to bring some roads up to spec.”
He said most people who have been displaced by the storm were staying with friends and relatives, but about 30 have been put up in hotels. “In cases where it's not safe for people to be there we are providing temporary accommodation, and for some, they'll be out of their home for the winter because you can't fix it in the winter.”
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