Government of New Brunswick
Saint John
Grand Lake West
Upper Gagetown
Gondola Point
Grand Falls
Heavy rain

Affected Areas

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During the winter of 1978-79, snowfall was about average throughout New Brunswick and in adjacent areas of Maine. However, above average snowfall was observed in northeastern New Brunswick and Quebec. The water equivalent of the snow pack at the end of April was slightly above normal in northern New Brunswick, and about 50% of normal in the southern portion of the Province. During the period of April 24 to May 7, mean temperatures were well above 0oC. On April 29, a storm system moved into Maine, Quebec and western New Brunswick resulting in precipitation varying from 10 to 22 millimetres in the northern part of the Saint John River Basin. Daily precipitation as high as 52.5 mm was reported at Bon Accord in north-central New Brunswick. Further rain occurred on April 30 and May 1, resulting in record breaking discharges at 11 hydrometric stations within the Saint John River Basin. Most rivers crested about April 30 or May 1 and then began to recede. The most seriously affected area of the Province was the flood plain of the lower Saint John River around Fredericton, and in the agricultural lands a few miles downstream of Fredericton. Saint John River Basin: Several major highways throughout the Province and, in particular, the Saint John River Basin, were closed as a result of the flooding for varying periods of time. Some of these were as follows: Trans Canada Highway at Green River; Route #125 from Salmon River to Grand Falls; Route #125 north of Perth; A section of the Trans Canada Highway from Woodstock to Hartland; Route #105 at Keswick Flats, between Woodstock and Florenceville, and from Bristol to Bath; Route #640 on Hanwell Road; Route #102 at Wilsey Road and Lincoln; Trans Canada Highway from the Princess Margaret Bridge to Jemseg; Route #690, Lakeville Corner to McGowan's Corner; Route #101 between Blissville and Alexander's Mill; and, Route #112, Coles Island to Salisbury. Water supplies were contaminated at Grand Falls, St. Leonard, Clair, Green River and Ste. Anne. The Grand River campground was inundated. At Fort Kent, Maine, the east side of Main Street was inundated forcing 35 families, including the residents of 18 senior citizens units to leave their homes. Several businesses were also affected. Route #1 was closed at Lisle, Maine. In Madawaska County, the highway at Caron Brook was flooded and a bridge at Baker Brook was washed out. Some families at Caron Brook, Baker Brook, Green River, Ste. Anne and Siggas were forced to leave their homes. At Edmundston, at least two homes were reported to have water well over the main floor. At Grand Falls, flooding of the sub-station resulted in reduced services to the Fraser Company's mill at Edmundston. At Hartland, reports of minor flooding were documented. In the Fredericton area, more than 90 families were forced to leave their homes on April 29, and a "state of emergency" was declared. Some 195 evacuees were reported to have stayed at University of New Brunswick residences while another 133 remained with friends and relatives. In addition to the blocked highways throughout the Fredericton area, numerous streets were closed. Some of these area were as follows: Riverside Drive, Carmen Drive, Gibson Street, Watters Drive, Union Street Underpass, Burpee Street, Hillcourt Drive, Campbell Street, Carleton at Brunswick Street, McMinniman Drive, McFadzen Lane and Willow Park. Many basements were flooded throughout the area and floodwaters threatened the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, the York Regional Library and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Ferry service on the lower Saint John River and across the Kennebecasis River were suspended at Upper Gagetown, Gagetown, Hampstead, Millidgeville and Gondola Point. The ferry service at Westfield was reduced to one of two because of the high water. Two homes in Oromocto West were surrounded by floodwaters. In Maugerville-Sheffield, all schools were closed for about a week. Some 300 to 400 dairy cattle were evacuated to higher ground. One registered quarter horse was reported to have been lost at Sheffield. The greenhouse operator's losses were reported to be substantial, and erosion to fields was said to be severe. The Trans Canada Highway remained closed until May 7. At Gagetown, several basements were flooded as well as all the roads leading to the community. In the Grand Lake area, as much as four feet [1.2 m] of water covered several roads. Numerous cottages were severely flooded. The Westfield area was severely affected by the inundation. In Saint John, about one-quarter of the South Bay Bridge was submerged as well as the Acamac Beach Road. At Dominion Park, one hundred feet [approm. 30 m] of road was under water, and several basements were flooded. At Indiantown, water was up to the monument in Robertson Square, and some basement flooding was reported. At Millidgeville, water rose to within a few feet [about 1/2 a meter] beyond the gate of the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club, and was reported to be lapping the side of the road at one point on Kennebecasis Drive. Restigouche River Basin: In Restigouche County, minor flooding was reported to have occurred in several areas of Campbellton. Road shoulders and culvert erosion was reported along Routes 11 and 132. Damages occurred on Gallant Drive where it crosses Walker Brook, and some residences along Val D'Amour Road were affected. Wyers Brook Road was submerged for about one mile [1.6 km] of its length on May 1. Reports of flooding at Eel River Crossing were also documented. The flooding also resulted in school closures in Matapedia, Quebec. Numerous Department of Natural Resources roads throughout the Province sustained damages.
During the latter part of April and the early part of May, extreme flood conditions occurred in most parts of the Province. These conditions were caused by rainfall combined with heavy snowmelt.
Saint John River Basin: Discharges for this event exceeded maximum of record, for four of the five hydrometric stations on the main stem of the Saint John River, above and including the gauge at Grand Falls. At hydrometric stations on a number of tributaries to the Saint John River above the Beechwood Dam, including the St. Francis, Green, Grand and Aroostook rivers also exceeded record discharges. Below the Beechwood Dam, steamflow on tributaries to the Saint John River peaked prior to the end of March. Despite this, streamflow as recorded at hydrometric stations on the main stem of the Saint John River below Beechwood Dam peaked on April 30. Maximum daily averaged water levels for the lower Saint John River are presented in the following table. Lower Saint John River Averaged Daily water level during the April-May 1979 Flood. 30-Apr 1-May 2-May 3-May 4-May Saint John River at 7.897 7.812 7.538 6.839 6.525 Fredericton (Station no. 01AU003) Saint John River at 6.357 6.427 6.435 6.236 6.061 Maugerville (Station no. 01AU002) Jemseg River at Jemseg 4.436 4.987 5.377 5.481 5.398 (Station no. 01AU004) Saint John River at Oak Point 3.737 4.071 4.465 4.69 4.687 Point (Station no. 01AP003) Saint John River at Saint John 3.603 3.91 4.276 4.479 4.454 John (Station no. 01AP005) The maximum instantaneous stage recorded at Fredericton was 8.062 metres [25.45 feet] on April 30. At Maugerville, the maximum instantaneous stage of 6.471 metres [21.23 feet] did not occur until May 2 (at 3:00 am). Other water level stations at Jemseg, Newcastle Creek, Oak Point and Saint John were reported to have peaked on May 3. This flood was the second largest in the Saint John River Basin in terms of peak discharge at the Mactaquac (Pokiok) gauging station, and the fourth largest in terms of stage at Fredericton.
The newspaper accounts of this flood estimated that the total damages were in the order of $4 million and that between $1.5 and $2 million dollars would be eligible for compensation. More structural damage was reported to have occurred in March when ice jams formed on the rivers than during this flood. ESTIMATED DAMAGE TO PUBLIC PROPERTY BY DEPARTMENT Department of Transportation $ 960 252 Department of Municipal Affairs $ 4 233 Department of Natural Resources $ 368 208 TOTAL $ 1 332 693 For further information on this flood, refer to the following publication prepared by Environment Canada and the New Brunswick Department of the Environment: The Flood of 1979 Saint John River Basin, New Brunswick, Report T-8101, March 1981.