Our an­ces­tors have en­dured many floods

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - COMMUNITY - Diane Tib­ert Roots to the Past Diane Lynn McGyver Tib­ert, au­thor of Scat­tered Stones, is a free­lance writer based in Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia. Visit her Roots to the Past blog (https://root­stothep­ast.word­press.com) to learn more about her ge­neal­ogy writ­ing.

I live in the boon­docks near sev­eral rivers. Usu­ally these rivers are slow mov­ing, me­an­der­ing through the land­scape as if ev­ery day was a Sun­day morn­ing.

Only a month ago, they were low, their muddy banks vis­i­ble and in some places, I could walk across wearing only rub­bers. Now, I wouldn’t ven­ture across wearing hip waders. The cur­rent is swift and the banks have dis­ap­peared be­neath rush­ing wa­ter.

The May rains have brought too much wa­ter all at once, and large ar­eas of the Mar­itimes and be­yond have seen mas­sive flood­ing.

In my al­most 50 years, I’ve seen sev­eral mem­o­rable floods, but they have never di­rectly af­fected my house.

Whether through good sense or sheer luck, my par­ents never lived in an area prone to flood­ing.

I live on a large hill, and although I can see the swelled river be­low, it would take an event never seen be­fore in the Mar­itimes to flood my base­ment.

Although I dis­like my paths turned into quag­mire and I fear los­ing my rub­bers ev­ery time I feed the goats, it’s a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience. Not ev­ery­one is as lucky as I am.

Liv­ing on the coast with many rivers criss­cross­ing the land­scape, flood­ing has al­ways been part of our lives. Usu­ally, but not al­ways, flood­ing his­tor­i­cally oc­curred in the spring with the com­bi­na­tion of snowmelt, spring rains and ice jams.

In New Brunswick, ma­jor floods oc­curred in 1887, 1923, 1936, 1970, 1973, 1976, 1979 and 1987. Although heavy rain­falls have caused 43 per cent of the floods, ice jams in com­bi­na­tion with snowmelt and heavy rain have caused more dam­age. The Fe­bru­ary 1970 flood de­stroyed 32 bridges and dam­aged an­other 124. Rem­nants of hur­ri­canes such as Edna (1954), Gla­dys (1968) and Belle (1976) caused dis­as­trous flood­ing.

Storms have been recorded in Nova Sco­tia since 1759. Six­ty­five floods have oc­curred in this time. The two most dam­ag­ing floods oc­curred in Jan­uary 1956 and April 1962.

No­table hur­ri­canes that caused floods were Beth (1971) and Juan (2003). Trop­i­cal storms sweep­ing through the area re­sult­ing in floods were Ethel (1964), Gla­dys (1968) and the un­named storms in Septem­ber 1936 and August 1950.

Be­sides the storms of the past two decades, the one that stands out in my mem­ory was dubbed the Ground­hog Day Storm of 1976. I was eight, and I re­mem­ber walk­ing around my neigh­bour­hood to see the blown­down sheds and de­bris scat­tered about. Like many storms, this one de­liv­ered a storm surge that flooded coastal ar­eas.

To­day, we have reg­u­la­tions in place to limit or elim­i­nate build­ing homes in ar­eas with a high po­ten­tial to flood, but our an­ces­tors weren’t as for­tu­nate. Still, with the avail­abil­ity of land, if they knew how rivers could over­flow dur­ing storms, they would have opted for higher ground.

Know­ing the weather events that struck ar­eas where our an­ces­tors lived might pro­vide in­sight into deaths, injuries or moves from the area. Floods not only de­stroyed build­ings and in­fra­struc­ture but claimed lives and liveli­hoods.

To learn more about floods in New Brunswick, visit the Flood His­tory Data­base web­site (http://www.el­gegl.gnb. ca/0001). It con­tains in­for­ma­tion on flood events from 1696 to the present.

To learn more about floods in Nova Sco­tia, visit the NS Flood Event Data­base web­site (http:// ns­flood­his­tory.man­age­ment. dal.ca).

The data­base at the top of the page ranges from 1992 to 2015, and the one at the bot­tom is for 1759 to 1987.

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