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After weeks of flooding, some New Brunswickers returned to their homes over the weekend as flood waters continued to recede. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan tweeted photos of Canadian military personnel helping New Brunswick residents with relief efforts, noting the Canadian Forces called in to help were heading home, too. “After two weeks of outstanding service in the NB flood relief efforts, our (at) CanadianForces are headed home,” Sajjan wrote on Twitter Saturday.

“Please join me in thanking all of our women and men in uniform who spent countless hours building sandbags and helping to keep residents and communities safe.” Provincial officials urged residents to be cautious of secondary threats from flood damages as they return to their homes. A statement from New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization said to look out for mould, contaminated household items, spilled sewage and smaller debris such as nails that could have washed onto properties.

Saturday’s statement also urged residents to await instructions before returning home and obey remaining traffic closures.

“The river level forecast is favourable, and water levels are continuing to recede, but people should only return to their homes when it is safe to do so,” the statement read. The province is also encouraging New Brunswickers to register damages to their homes, promoting the disaster financial assistance program announced on Friday.

Affected property owners could receive a maximum one-time payment of up to $160,000 for structural repairs to private residences, to demolish the home and return the property to grade, or as a buyout to sell the property to the province. Funding will also be available for small businesses and non-profit owners.

Cleanup kits are being offered to registered households for free at Red Cross centres in Fredericton and Saint John as of Saturday. Health and safety inspection teams were in the Fredericton, Maugerville and Grand Bay-Westfield areas on Saturday assessing damage to homes and businesses. Those inspections will continue Sunday and expand to Hampton, Rothesay and Quispamsis as professionals determine whether buildings are safe enough for people to return to.

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