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Flooding in St. George during the weekend of March 30-31, 2024. Image: Submitted/John Craig

Heavy rain leads to flooding in St. George area

By Brad Perry Apr 1, 2024 | 1:38 PM

Some residents in the St. George area of Charlotte County are dealing with flooding after heavy rain over the weekend.

John Craig, the mayor of Eastern Charlotte, said water levels began rising in the Magaguadavic River on Saturday.

Craig said Lake Utopia, which is connected to the river, ended up being several feet above flood stage at one point.

“The level of the lake came up to at least 65 feet. Flood stage is anything over 58 or 59 feet, so we knew there were going to be problems,” Craig said in an interview on Monday.

Photos posted to social media show water surrounding some homes and other buildings in the St. George area.

Craig said had it not been for a lack of snow this winter, they could have experienced water levels similar to the historic 2010 flood.

While the water has begun to recede, the mayor said it could be at least three more days before levels are back before flood stage.

“As long as we don’t get any more rain, we’ll be alright. And there’s no rain forecast at least until the end of the week,” said Craig.

Craig said he is unsure at this point how much damage may have been caused by the weekend flooding.

“There were a lot of people that lost things on their lawns. It could have been a dock, it could have been a table, it could have been something they had sitting out that just ended up floating away,” he said.

“I don’t know if any amounts of water got into some of the houses. There may have been some houses or some camps that did in the very low-lying areas.”

Some residents blame the flooding on J.D. Irving, Ltd., which operates the St. George Dam at the mouth of the Magaguadavic River.

They claim the company failed to open the dam and lower water levels in Lake Utopia soon enough before the heavy rain occurred.

“They have to have that water at a certain height to be able to create power so that they can have power ready when NB Power needs it,” said Craig.

“Could it have been lower? I don’t know. They would have to speak to that. But I do know 59 feet is where it gets to the point where we’re at the flood stage.”

Brendan Langille, a spokesperson for J.D. Irving, Ltd., said extensive studies have found that the dam is not the reason that flooding is occurring upriver.

Langille said the Magaguadavic River has to go through a narrow natural restriction above the dam at the Brunswick Street Bridge.

“During high flow events, this restriction controls the upstream levels, not the dam,” Langille said in an email to our newsroom.

“According to recent studies, lowering water levels on Lake Utopia (which is upriver of the natural restriction) in advance of rain events does not lower the peak water levels upriver.”

Langille said they proactively opened the gates to exceed the river flow and even opened the final gate in advance of the rain to ensure the river was able to flow fully through the dam.

“St. George Power cannot control river levels in high flow events like we saw over the last few days.”