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River stabilizing in New Brunswick village

PERTH-ANDOVER, N.B. - The northwestern New Brunswick village of Perth-Andover is breathing a sigh of relief now that water levels have stabilized in the community, which was devastated by flooding two years ago.

A massive ice jam breached the Grand Falls dam north of the community early Sunday and started heading for Perth-Andover, prompting concerns the St. John River would spill its banks.

But spokeswoman Justine Waldeck said the jam passed safely through the village, coming to a rest downstream above Beechwood where another patch of ice is located.

"We were close to a mandatory evacuation, but thankfully things started to level out," Waldeck said.

A voluntary evacuation order issued Wednesday and affecting 49 homes will remain in effect until officials have a clearer picture of the situation.

For the most part, however, Waldeck said worries are beginning to subside even as ice chunks continue to flow through the community.

"There's some small stuff that's coming down through, but it's just mangled stuff, it's mush," she said. "It's not going to amount to much."

Earlier in the week, River Watch warned that Perth-Andover could see flooding reminiscent of March 2012 when flood waters caused extensive damage and forced the evacuation of 185 homes. Damage in the community was pegged at around $25 million.

New Brunswickers outside of Perth-Andover have also been on edge for days as ice-choked rivers threaten to flood their communities.

River Watch said water levels are expected to remain high for the next few days and above flood stage in some areas, including Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, Grand Lake, Sheffield, Lakeville Corner and Quispamsis.

It is also keeping a close eye on several ice jams along the St. John River at Woodstock and the Nashwaak River.

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