Saint John Area Businesses Offer Helicopter, Train, Boats For Flood Relief Efforts

Image: Mark Leger/Huddle

SAINT JOHN – J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) and Cooke Aquaculture have offered significant resources in the form of trains, boats, and a helicopter to help with flood relief efforts in the Saint John region.

Mary Keith, Vice President of Communications at J.D. Irving, said the company is working with the Saint John Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) and has offered transportation assistance, equipment and personnel to be used at their disposal.

“In the event that they need it, [we’ve provided] a helicopter to assess the situation and we also have on 24/7 alert a rail crew, as well as a passenger train and a high-rail truck,” said Keith in a phone interview Thursday.

JDI’s NB Southern Railway is providing a free one-way evacuation shuttle service via rail to residents along the Westfield Road and area. This includes those living in Morna, Morna Heights, Belmont, Ketepec, Acamac and South Bay who can’t leave those areas by road.

NB Southern has two passengers cars that it purchased from VIA Rail. They can carry up to 140 people to the West Side of Saint John, where they would be transported by bus to a Red Cross Reception Center at the Carleton Community Centre. Additional runs of the train will be scheduled as needed during daylight hours.

The service was up and running late Thursday afternoon but there were no residents to transport.

JDI itself has had to close some parts of its sawmill in Chipman, to the east of Fredericton, due to the high water levels. Its machining service company, CFM Services, in Saint John has also been affected. The company is working to assist employees whose homes are affected, Keith said.

“We certainly have businesses that are affected, but the main concern is the safety of people,” Keith said. “We live in Saint John, it’s our home, and we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help with the relief and working with the team at EMO who are doing extraordinary work.”

Cooke Aquaculture providing boats, equipment, and personnel

Cooke VP of Public Relations Joel Richardson, left, says the company will do what it can to help with relief efforts. Image: Submitted

Cooke Aquaculture, whose businesses have not been impacted so far, has also offered its resources, said Public Relations VP Joel Richardson.

“We’re able to mobilize our resources very quickly and efficiently, and we’re providing the staffing,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.

The company has dispatched six boats along with professional personnel to the Grand Bay-Westfield and Kennebecasis Valley areas, as well as Saint John. Three boats will be sent to Saint John, one will go to Grand Bay-Westfield, and two will stay in the Kennebecasis Valley area.

One of Cooke Aquacultures boats and crew heading out on the St. John River to support the Grand Bay-Westfield fire department with flood relief. Image: Submitted

“We’ll be taking directions from the EMO on where those boats will be assigned and what those boats will be used for.”

Cooke Aquaculture also sent 10,000 sandbags to the Grandbay-Westfield region and will send 23,000 more on Friday. It’s delivering 100 lifejackets to the City of Saint John on Thursday.

The family-owned company based in Blacks Harbour has 1,300 employees across New Brunswick. It’s concerned about the families of people living in the affected areas, Richardson said.

“It’s something that Cooke takes to heart and want to help our community and fellow New Brunswickers,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the lower St. John River valley and we’ll do everything we can to help.”

Check out this raw footage shot by JDI as the company took area media outlets on an aerial tour of flood regions in a helicopter: