Government promises compensation for Monteregie flood victims
Civil security officials anticipate more flooding in the Monteregie region, as the water levels of the Richelieu River continue to rise -- forcing hundreds of people to leave their damaged homes.
Winds from the south are expected to raise the levels of the Richelieu River by at least 15 centimetres, which would bring it to 40 centimetres higher than normal.
There's 80 millimetres of rain forecast for the Montérégie by Friday, which will only worsen what is already a practically untenable situation in communities like Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-Aux-Noix, which saw 100 per cent more rainfall last month than normal.
More than 1700 homes have been affected by the flooding over the past several days, and at least 450 people have been forced to evacuate and take refuge at local community centres.
"It's the price we pay for living near the river," Francois Fleury, who had not yet left his home, told CTV Montreal's Catherine Sherriffs.
However, even though firefighters were going door to door in Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-Aux-Noix on Tuesday to try and encourage residents to leave, many refused to do so, choosing instead to stand by their homes as they came under attack from the rising waters.
"I'm trying to protect my house the best I can," said resident Bruno DeMontigny, who received extra sandbags from a local business because the town ran out of them.
There's been about 2,000 evacuations ordered across the Richelieu Valley region, but only about 500 have actually deserted their homes.
"People don't want to leave their homes, and that's a big problem that we're facing right now," says Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-Aux-Noix fire chief Gilles Bastien.
However, some have taken the advice to leave more by necessity than by choice. Martin Dufresne says he decided to move his family out of his house because the water was undrinkable and the indoor plumbing was sporadic. He also had to watch as his newly renovated basement sat submerged by flood waters.
"There's nothing you can do to stop it," Dufresne said. "Sure I'm upset, but what's done is done."
But finally Tuesday night, some good news came in the form of a government promise to compensate flood victims for the damages to their homes.
An information meeting was held in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu to inform residents that the Quebec government has not forgotten them.
"All the people that's in their own place, they're eligible to have some money from the government," said St-Jean Mayor Gilles Dolbec.
Government inspectors will be dispatched as soon as this weekend to assess damages, and there is a set amount determined for the loss of various goods. For instance, a refrigerator is worth $1,000, utensils are worth $70, a television is worth $450, bedroom furniture is worth $1,000 per occupant and clothes are worth $1,200 per occupant.
The victims will then need to submit a claim form for the assessed damages and they will be entitled to an immediate payment of 50 per cent of those damages, with the rest coming at a later date.
It will be a big help for people like the Melancon family, who have three feet of water in their basement. Thankfully, they are trying to see a difficult situation in a good light.
"I always wanted a pool," Jean-Guy Melancon told CTV Montreal's Camille Ross, "but not that big."
Melancon can't even see the street he's lived on for 35 years, but he is hardly alone, and the hundreds of people who have been forced from their homes in the region will surely see the government money as a ray of hope.
"Anything they can give us would sure be appreciated," Melancon said, "that's for sure."