Terrasse-Vaudreuil flood victim maintains positive attitude
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Many Terrasse-Vaudreuil residents are still relying on boats to access their homes as the floodwaters are not receding as quickly as they did in the 2017 spring flooding.
For flood-weary residents of the small municipality of Terrasse-Vaudreuil, the past five weeks have been extremely trying. Water levels have been consistently high along the shoreline with the Lake of Two Mountains.
Residences along the shore and on certain streets north of 1st Boulevard have become islands unto themselves. The only way some people have to reach their properties is by boat or kayak. For others, the flood has lasted too long. Nerves are frayed and tempers are short.
Hard on the elderly
It’s especially hard on the elderly. Bruce and Sheila Washer are in their 80s and have lived in their home on 11th Avenue North for almost 55 years. This is their second flood in the past three years. It hasn’t been easy for the couple, especially Bruce who is also presently enduring a bout of cancer. Their sons and daughter Beth have been helping them.
Beth lives in Smith’s Falls, Ontario and has been staying with her parents since April 18. “They’re hanging in there. Everybody’s tired. It’s hard on the nerves,” she told The Journal during an interview outside the family home on May 15.
Hopeful flood level has peaked
The family was hopeful the water level was finally subsiding last week only to see it rise a second time. “We watched it drop. We were sweeping up and then the second wave came in. Hopefully the level has peaked. They said the Ottawa River peaked in Pembroke and Ottawa on Monday. It went up about seven inches here since the low point last week,” said Beth.
Most of the lake water has been kept out of homes because of the sandbagging. But because the pressure from the ground water is so intense, water is entering basements from the concrete floors.
Seepage from basement floor
“My parents have a concrete basement. There are cracks now and you can see the sand that comes up with the water. And they have a sump pump and French drains. We’re pumping out basically everything that is coming in from the French drains plus the water that’s pushing up from the water table itself,” said Beth.
She isn’t sure about the stability of her parents’ house now. “We’re not sure because of all the moisture and water underneath. It’s coming up so fast. It’s not a solid foundation. They have pilings but still, you can feel the house moving and hear the cracking and bangs as it settles in different ways from the water,” said Beth.
‘Lots of family support’
“I’m here, my brothers are here, and we have lots of support from family. We’re at the point where we’re just monitoring the situation. We’re not sandbagging at this point. We made the barrier and now it’s just frequently checking pumps to make sure everything is operating properly,” Beth said.
The municipality has been complimented on how they’ve handled the situation. “They have been excellent and amazing. Different groups have brought food to every door. The municipal and volunteer firemen, the police, it’s like everybody is here. Other residents that aren’t affected come down to periodically check on people and ask if they need anything. People share boats just to get their groceries in and out,” said Beth.
Sense of community spirit
Beth said there’s a tremendous sense of community spirit among the neighbours. “It always has been like this. I grew up here and my parents have lived here now for 55 years. A lot of the original residents like my parents are still here. It’s a wonderful community,” she said.
Despite having endured almost five weeks of flooding and very difficult circumstances, Beth said she tries to keep emphasizing the positive aspects.
“You’ve got to take the positive with the negative and keep an emphasis on the positive,” she said. “You have to keep other people who are having a difficult time positive too to help support them.”