Some Pierrefonds-Roxboro residents who had to flee their homes earlier this week returned home Thursday to assess the damage.

René Leblanc has been checking on his house every day since water gushed into his basement.

"It gets tough at times. You feel like breaking down and you pull it together," said Leblanc, looking at the watery mess that still fills his house.

The water has receded from his street, but water still needs to be pumped out of many homes.

Another Pierrefonds resident, Itsik Romano, came back to his Macon St. house Thursday for the first time since he and his family left on Sunday.

The damage is terrible, but not as bad as he thought it would be.

"The stench, the smell, was difficult to handle. I opened up all the windows and everything, and garage door, to let the air through," said Romano.

John Tsoupanarias's home was flooded from the inside when the sewage backup valve failed.

"The smell was really unbearable for us," said Tsoupanarias.

Sewage entered his home and soaked into the basement carpet.

"It didn't feel like there was any type of plan of action to prepare for this," said Tsoupanarias.

The military has been working hard in the area, building and reinforcing six dams on Wednesday alone.

On Thursday soldiers concentrated on one dike in particular so that water can be pumped away.

"As soon as the dike is reinforced it will pump out the water so the water level will go down," said Capt. Pierre Leblanc.

Once the water is removed emergency personnel will make sure the area is safe before residents are allowed home.

"There's electricity, there's gas lines, so we don't want people to be in danger," said Bruno Lachance of the Montreal Fire department.

"We are going to help them go back into their homes when the time comes."

Away from home for five days, many people are eagerly awaiting that moment.

"The water is going down, but there's still at least four feet of water in there and it will be at least a few days before we start pumping out of there. The city has to do air tests before we can go in and start fixing," said Leblanc.

"I just met with my insurance adjuster, a young lady from Saguenay... and I'll be given the amount of insurance I can expect."

Romano isn't thinking that far ahead. He just wants to start cleaning up.

"You have to remove everything out to clean and decontaminate it, and everything what happens here is that there is nowhere to put it," said Romano.

One thing residents know for sure is that it will take months before their home is what it used to be.