• James Armstrong

Rigaud appeals for flood victim info before winter


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

In light of the approaching winter season, Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. issued an appeal for flood victims to contact the town immediately while critiquing the Québec financial assistance program as not working.

Rigaud’s Mayor, Hans Gruenwald Jr. issued a call for all citizens of Rigaud affected by the 2017 Spring flooding to contact the town immediately to report on their situation.

“Winter will be here tomorrow,” said the mayor during a press conference Wednesday, August 30. “An important number of our residents have not been able to return to their homes. I am appealing for information. We need to know how many people we will need to take care of this winter,” he said.

Gruenwald told assembled media that as the government of proximity, it will be the responsibility of the Town of Rigaud to provide lodging for people who will not be able to return to their homes before winter.

“We need to know how many people, how many families, how many children.”

Information blockage

The mayor expressed frustration with the current situation. “We are unable to get the information out of the systems that are in place, so we have decided that we are going to get that information ourselves,” he said.

When asked if the Ministry of Public Security and the Red Cross were not sharing information, the mayor replied, “Everybody says that their information is confidential from the Ministry of Public Security downwards.

“They (Ministry of Public Security and the Red Cross) are responsible for housing people at the present time but to lodge people in a hotel for the entire winter season is not acceptable,” said Gruenwald Jr. He expressed concern for the wellbeing of the people who have been living in hotels since April.

“Everybody finds that they are very, very fragile and very stressed out,” he said.

“What we have right now is not effective. We have proved it is not working. We have about 260 files open and we are treating only15 files,” said Gruenwald. “I am as frustrated as many of those people because I don’t have the tools that I need to make decisions and move forward.”

Need for proper housing

“We need to produce housing and it needs to be prefabricated,” said the mayor. He indicated a property has been located that is serviced with potable water and a sewage system but declined to divulge the location. He said that the land in question is close to services such as stores. The money to pay for the housing should be coming from the Public Security Ministry or the Quebec government according to the mayor. “The Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) is an important team player and they are willing to put in place bridge-financing, if necessary,” said Gruenwald. “The major issue is to protect people for the winter.”

The announcement regarding the need for winter housing came as a surprise and shock for some of the flood victims that were present for the news conference. Resident Jeannine Landry said that she and many others were hoping to return to their homes before the cold weather. “Everyone around me is depressed,” she said. Landry is the chairperson of Inondation 2017-regroupement des sinistrés/Comité des citoyens de Rigaud (CCR) a group of citizens that has been helping flood victims deal with the local financial aid office. “I was hoping to return home before the winter,” she said. Landry, like many others, is waiting for permits to begin repairs and renovations on her home.

Pointe-Fortune and Rigaud citizens affected by the flood are asked to contact the town by calling (450) 451-0869, extension 263.

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