• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Rigaud residents still seeking answers months after flooding

YLJ FILE PHOTO/JAMES ARMSTRONG The Town of Rigaud was especially hard hit during the 2017 spring floods which saw many residents forced from their homes and still awaiting compensation to repair or rebuild.

The Town of Rigaud held a special information session December 7 for the victims of the spring 2017 flood. The objective of the meeting was to offer tips and technical information regarding temporary work that can help flood victims move back in their homes this coming winter while they wait for their claim for compensation to be processed by the government.

The meeting brought together a panel of the main stakeholders associated with the ongoing crisis following the flood, including representatives from the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the Ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) and various municipal employees. Most of the information presented was given out by Rigaud's assistant fire chief Éric Martel and consultant Sylvain Leroux of Bâti Consult. Martel began the presentation with a brief definition of the temporary work involved and its importance.

"It’s something that you must do, that you must do urgently, but that will not be permanent," Martel said. "If you don't perform the temporary work, your home will suffer additional damages, or it will hinder upcoming work."

What defines temporary?

The temporary work consists mainly of installing insulation material in living areas, crawl spaces and basements in general; and recommendations for boarding up houses of residents who will not be occupying their homes over the winter. Electrical safety and heating considerations for all concerned were also high on the list of mandatory precautions underlined by Martel and Leroux.

Leroux fleshed out the presentation with additional technical information as to the types of materials to be used, electrical safety and water pump issues. Most hands in the room were raised when Leroux asked for a show of hands of residents who had still not moved back into their homes.

Still waiting for compensation

While the attendees listened stoically to Leroux's presentation, many of them had other matters besides temporary repairs on their minds; attendees who spoke out said they were still waiting for compensation from the government and while advances were promised to help with the temporary work mentioned during the meeting, residents complained of not yet having received any amount.

Running out of patience

"You talk, but we are seething inside, because we’re not getting this or that. We can't find out anything. We want to know: what is the problem? What can we do to move back into our homes? We are seething, sir. Try to understand us a little. Try to put yourself in our shoes," one aggravated resident said.

Leroux answered that he was very sensitive to the resident’s plight, and he stressed the importance of following the recommendations offered during the meeting to preserve the resident's home.

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO About 200 flood victims from across the province attended a rally in front of the office of the Ministère de la Sécurité publique to voice their frustration with the lack of funding and leadership or comprehensive pre-winter planning.

Questions regarding the status of requests for compensations were directed at Éric Drolet of the MSP. "What is going on with your agents?" One resident asked. "I've talked with many flood victims a