Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Duty
On April 27, 2019, the dike bordering the municipality of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac gave way, forcing the evacuation of 6000 residents.
On April 27, 2019, to 19 h, the dike bordering the municipality of Sainte-Marthe-of-the-Lake, in the Laurentians, surrendered and 6000 residents had to be evacuated in a disaster when the water flooded many homes. A year later, the memory of this night and the consequences of the flood are still well present in the minds of residents.
“We would have wanted to mark this sad anniversary, but with the COVID-19, we can’t get together. We will stay at home with candlelight on the terrace, ” says Sylvie Béchard.
She has not forgotten the moment when the police knocked on his door to tell him to leave his home quickly. When she was finally able to return to his home, the objects were floating scattered in his basement in five feet of water. “I have not lost my home, but I lost everything what I had, the memories, the photos,” she said with regret.
Since then, she lives in his room and his kitchen because the basement has still not been recovered completely in a state. “I didn’t have the head for it nor the means. I’m tired of living in my kitchen, but with the COVID-19, you can’t do any work either, ‘ she explains.
The house of Brigitte Prune was a total loss. “I had nine minutes to get out of my house. I had just time to take my two cats and my two dogs to put them in the car. My son was running to make things. When I went in the car, the wave was coming in front of us, ” she says.
A resident of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac for 17 years, she has finally left the area and settled at Rawdon. And she took precautions to never, it will not be the victim of a disaster similar. “At Sainte-Marthe, I was at 21 meters above the sea level. I’m 177 meters here. The water in the us, I don’t want this anymore, ” she said.
It also keep bad memories of the intricacies of the bureaucratic, in which she and many other residents were immersed to obtain allowances from the government. She wants even to the municipality and to the mayor, Sonia Paulus, for their management of the crisis and the failure of the dam. According to her, the citizens were left to fend for themselves in this event.
Pierre-Michel Marie considers himself lucky in his bad luck. The basement of his house was flooded, but unlike many of its neighbours, which have had to shave their remains, he was able to keep hers.
If he has obtained financial compensation from the government, it keeps a certain grudge against his insurance company, who did not want to indemnify even if it had a protection against the floods since the purchase of the house. “It was insured against floods, but not against natural disasters, even if there was nothing natural in there because it is a dam that has broken. On the other hand, they have not hesitated to increase our premiums by over 60% afterwards, ” he explains.
The dam of St-Martha-on-the-Lake was rebuilt at a cost of $ 49 million. Formed of a curtain of sheet piles driven down into the soil, it now sits at 26.5 metres above the sea level.
Pierre-Michel Marie admits that the new dike that he sees his garden is not very aesthetic : “Visually speaking, this is not the head-works of art of the century, but at least it’s efficient. This is the main “.
The victims withdrew, however, experience the feeling of a new solidarity within the community. “We are all still in contact. It is tightly woven, such as a family that one is knitted in misery, ” says Brigitte Prune.
The municipality of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, however, is not the end of his sentences, as it is the subject of several lawsuits from residents, businesses, and insurance companies. It is also covered by a proposed class action lawsuit that claims an amount of $ 400,000 per claim.
The spring of 2020 promises to be more peaceful, because the situation of the water courses in the greater Montreal area appears to be stable. In its most recent report, dated 26 April, the Montréal metropolitan Community (CMM) indicates that the lake of Two Mountains has reached its peak of the flood on 15 April and, since then, its level has dropped by 80 centimeters, given the lack of precipitation and cooler temperatures.