Rigaud mayor issues plea to Quebec to fully compensate those still out of their homes
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 12:21PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 24, 2019 5:42PM EDT
The town of Rigaud is calling on the Quebec government to step up with payment for food and shelter to help flood victims who are still out of their homes.
Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. gathered other municipal officials Friday in the town west of Montreal – which is still under a state of emergency – to make a plea to the government.
There are still 218 families, about 400 people, who have not been able to return home since spring floods began five weeks ago.
Those flood victims are either staying with friends or family or living in a hotel. Cost to compensate these flood victims for food and shelter has reached about $1 million, said Gruenwald.
As it stands, Quebec will pay for 75 per cent of that, but that leaves Rigaud with a bill of $250,000 – and the situation isn’t over yet.
During spring floods in 2017, Quebec paid 100 per cent of the compensation.
Gruenwald said it is difficult for municipalities to dig up that money out of town coffers, and isn’t sure where the money will come from to continue paying for food and shelter.
“I have a feeling that we’re always talking, but I don’t get any answers,” he said. “I don’t get any concrete position on something. Everybody wants to help out. When you see your neighbour drowning, you’re going to help him, but you’re not going to pay his mortgage. Certain things are going very well, but it is a stressful situation.”
Rigaud is now considering changing its compensation package flood victims by restricting these payments:
- Those staying with friends or family, who are currently receiving $100 per week and $40 per additional family member for food, will no longer get vouchers.
- Those staying in a hotel will be relocated Bourget College, where they will set up beds.
In a news release, the town said it is "very concerned the financial burden of the floods and the psychological stability of its stricken citizens, (and) is forced to reconsider its position regarding the implementation of the emergency shelter and food aid program" of the Quebec government.
“It's very challenging because we are dealing with individual people,” said Gruenwald. “Some people deal with it very well and some people are very very stressed out.”
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault tweeted about the situation Friday, saying the government has been "proactive" and so far has spent $19 million to help this year’s flood victims. She said 4,000 files have been opened and the Quebec government is in "constant communication with municipal authorities."
Guilbault hasn’t said, though, whether they the government will fully cover the costs of shelter and food, as per Gruenwald’s request.