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New Brunswick flood waters recede, but no luck yet for evacuees

Water and ice from the St. John River flows on to the roadway in the small western New Brunswick community of Perth-Andover on Saturday, March 24, 2012. The village has issued an evacuation order to residents living in low lying areas and declared a state of emergency in the face of the rising water levels.

Mike Dembeck/The Canadian Press/Mike Dembeck/The Canadian Press

Some residents who were evacuated from a New Brunswick village last Friday because of flooding were allowed to return Monday to assess the damage to their homes and businesses.

Residents of Perth-Andover were forced to leave after ice jams forced the St. John River to spill its banks last week, though water has been receding slowly since then.

Mayor Rick Beaulieu said it may be some time before the 500 people who were evacuated would be able to live in their homes again.

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The Department of Public Safety said about 200 homes and businesses are damaged, including 14 on the nearby Tobique First Nation.

Department spokeswoman Deborah Nobes said inspectors were sent in to assess electrical and structural problems.

"We have several teams on the ground right now going through homes checking power connections and making sure that all is okay," Ms. Nobes said Monday.

"We hope and expect this all to be finished by later in the week."

The province's Emergency Measures Organization has said unseasonably hot weather that caused a rapid snowmelt and an ice jam were to blame for the river breaching its banks.

The provincial government has pegged the total damage in the community at around $25-million.

Officials with the regional health district said it would be at least later in the week before crews have an assessment on the extent of damage at the Perth-Andover hospital.

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Patients have been relocated to the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville, Grand Falls General Hospital or have been discharged home.

Andover Elementary School and Southern Victoria High School, both damaged by flood waters, will remain closed until further notice, while Perth-Andover Middle School, currently being used by the Red Cross as an emergency evacuation site, will remain closed until at least Tuesday.

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