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FREDRICTON, N.B. — Heavy rainfall that dumped more than 160 millimetres on parts of New Brunswick is being blamed for widespread property damage and the death of one man. 

The province’s Emergency Measures Organization says the downpour Wednesday and early Thursday damaged bridges, highways and guardrails across the province.

“We’re dealing with road closures … washouts and I’ve got a few bridge washouts as well, so we are looking at significant damage to road infrastructure,” said spokesman Paul Bradley.

The RCMP say a 51-year-old man in Berwick, N.B., died after a retaining wall collapsed on him as he was connecting a sump pump at his home. The man has not been identified, and RCMP say they are not investigating as the death is considered accidental.

Six duck hunters were also rescued from a small island on Grand Lake after their boat started to sink Wednesday night.

In Welsford, about 70 kilometres south of Fredericton, some roads were covered in water and on Highway 101 in Wirral large slabs of asphalt were torn from the roadbed and ended up among some trees more than 10 metres away.

Addison Sweet of nearby Hoyt said the damage in his community was overwhelming.

“It looks like a war zone. It looks like the military bombed it in places,” he said.

“There are 50 foot sections of road completely gone, culverts gone, and brooks running wide open.”

Some roads are impassable, he said. “You’re not going to get through some for a few days.”

Bradley said some people in Hoyt had voluntarily left their homes and 14 families in Grand Bay-Westfield were staying with family and friends. A reception centre was also opened in Oromocto for anyone who had been forced from their homes.

In Clarendon, Cheryl Perrin had two driveways but the end of one was washed away by the raging floodwaters and the other one was damaged.

“We knew it was bad but we didn’t know it was that bad,” she said. 

Perrin said the heavy rain lasted all day Wednesday and through the night.

“There was so much of it that it had no place to go.”

Bradley said most roads were swamped and caution was being urged for drivers, particularly in central and southern regions. The downpour and subsequent washouts also forced the closure of some schools and cancelled buses.

Heavy rainfall warnings for New Brunswick and P.E.I. ended Thursday, though warnings remained in effect for much of Nova Scotia and western Newfoundland.

The weather office predicted between 40 and 80 millimetres of rain in Nova Scotia and similar amounts in western Newfoundland.

Environment Canada urged people to prepare for flash flooding.

Despite the nasty weather, four cruise ships carrying more than 5,200 passengers plus crew planned to make a day of it in Halifax harbour, including the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner. A fifth vessel decided to bypass Halifax due to the weather and was headed for Saint John, N.B.

Lane Farguson, a spokesman for the Halifax Port Authority, said the rain wasn’t ideal but cruise passengers to the Maritimes are typically prepared for changeable weather.

“They know it’s possibly a good idea to bring some rain gear,” he said.

— By Melanie Patten in Halifax and Kevin Bissett in New Brunswick

The Canadian Press

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