• Carmen Marie Fabio

Premier Couillard visits flood victims in Rigaud


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Along with Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. (left), Environment Minister David Heurtel, and Premier Philippe Couillard were among those in attendance to survey the damage in one of the heavily flooded ares of Rigaud.

As Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard arrived to tour one of the harder hit flooded neighbourhoods in Rigaud May 6, the skies opened up and a deluge of rain added to the already saturated ground as the town’s Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. warned the situation would get worse before improving.

“The premier ensured us his complete cooperation,” Gruenwald told Your Local Journal. “The support has been fantastic. His people are sensitive to the situation that our citizens are living with.”

Arriving with Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux, Minister of Sustainable Development David Heurtel, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, and Government Administration Minister Pierre Moreau, Couillard told assembled media, “I came here to visit our fellow Quebecers who are struggling with very difficult circumstances.”

He said as a homeowner himself, it’s hard to imagine the anxiety of people seeing their homes in that state. Couillard met with local residents who are still staying in their homes in the flood zone and commended them for taking care of each other.

Couillard did not go into specifics concerning dollar amounts or exact measures that will be taken once the flood waters have receded.

“(Keeping people) safe is our first priority, and also for the property to be respected. That’s what we’re working towards in the coming days.

Liberal MP Peter Schiefke was also in attendance following the morning touring the region in his riding and asking for volunteers to lend a hand.

He said though the federal government will not provide money directly to affected citizens, they can transfer funds to the province to help with disaster relief and clean-up.

“Decisions to provide funding directly to individuals are made by the Provincial or Territorial Governments on a case-by-case basis as they consider appropriate,” he told Your Local Journal later via email. “Any Federal payments to the impacted province or territory, (in this case Québec) through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA), are based on an assessment of each event’s eligible costs.”

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Public Security Minster Martin Coiteux meeting flood victims.

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers remain a presence on the scene and Mayor Gruenwald is still urging people to evacuate before the flooding worsens.

Gruenwald said besides the extra expected 15 centimetres of rain expected, winds buffeting the water against existing structures and sandbags will lead to further damages but says the town is doing everything to prepare for the latest wave of inundation.

“We’re not giving up,” said Gruenwald. “The tough get going when the going gets tough.”

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