• John Jantak

MRC asks province to allow flood victims to deal directly with Red Cross


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK

The small town of Terrasse-Vaudreuil was hard hit again in this year’s spring flooding and the few staffers are already working extensively, lacking the time to take on additional paperwork to help residents find temporary alternative housing.

The Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges is still in negotiations with the provincial government three weeks after the flood crisis began to create a protocol that would allow victims in the territory to deal directly with the Red Cross in terms of finding adequate shelter.

Patrick Bousez, the MRC prefect and Mayor of Rivière-Beaudette, said this approach was adopted by the government during the 2017 flood which enabled affected municipalities to focus exclusively on flood-relief efforts.

“Two years ago, citizens dealt directly with the Red Cross and they were taken care of immediately,” said Bousez.

MRC criticizes Premier Legault

The prefect directly criticized Premier François Legault for avoiding the issue. Flood-affected towns presently have to deal with finding accommodations for flood victims through the Red Cross. Flood victims were able to deal directly with the Red Cross in 2017.

“Can the government take action to allow municipalities to do their work on the ground? We will not abandon anyone but we can reduce the bureaucratic and financial burden by using Red Cross's direct disaster management approach as was done in 2017,” said Bousez.

Don’t have time for paperwork

Mayor Michel Bourdeau of Terrasse-Vaudreuil shared the prefect’s sentiments. “Most municipalities affected by the flood are small with a small staff. Their people are out in the field coordinating, making sandbags, helping, and reassuring citizens. They don’t have time to file some paperwork,” said Bourdeau.

Terrasse-Vaudreuil, a small municipality of 2,000 residents on Île-Perrot, was hit hard with severe flooding along its coastline by the Lake of Two Mountains that inundated many homes.

Red Cross doing extraordinary work

Simon Richard, MRC communications agent, stressed that the criticism has nothing to do with the Red Cross. “They’re doing extraordinary work. They have specialists who deal with these types of disaster scenarios. It’s really about how the situation is being managed by the provincial government,” said Richard.

“This is an exceptional situation. When there’s a crisis the government has to take special procedures during these situations that would allow municipalities to focus on doing the relief work necessary to help manage the disaster properly. There has been some discussion but we haven’t received a written proposition yet,” added Richard.

Bousez also commended the Red Cross for their tremendous show of support throughout the current ordeal. “The Red Cross teams are extraordinary. The government must give them all necessary measures to support the municipalities and victims as they know how to do it. We are facing a national crisis that requires taking all necessary action to cope,” he said.

Keep sandbags in place

Even though flood waters have slowly begun to recede, the MRC is advising residents in the flood zone to keep their sandbags in place as another weather system is set to bring more rain by the end of the week and early next week.

“The weather is changing day-to-day. We’re telling people not to take any chances,” said Richard. “There’s still ice and snow in northern Quebec so that could also have an impact. We can’t take anything for granted right now. The tributaries from a 150,000 square kilometer radius in northern Quebec and eastern Ontario drain directly into the Ottawa River so that can affect our water level too.”

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