A determined group of Pierrefonds-Roxboro flood victims are suing the city. They say the borough’s lack of action contributed to damage during last year’s spring floods.
“We asked for help in the days before, but we were denied,” said Susan Bodnik, who lives with her husband Klaus on 5th Avenue, off of Gouin.
Klaus showed Global News a photo of their basement full of about five feet of water, and said there was about $40,000 in damage.
They aren’t the only ones who blame the borough for what happened to their homes.
“They abandoned us,” said Alain Furlano, who lives across the street.
Furlano and the Bodniks are among about 30 residents on their street taking the city to court. They argue they saw the flood coming, they had a solution and the city ignored them.
“Somebody removed part of the dike, that’s the problem,” Furlano told Global News.
The residents say there used to be a barrier blocking the water, leading from train tracks adjacent to their street into a nearby forest. Sometime in the past few decades, a big part of it was taken away.
Last May, Furlano begged the city to fix the dike with sandbags. When they didn’t, he put sandbags there himself. He was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. Furlano still does not understand why authorities didn’t just fix it.
“It was so easy to avoid this problem, all these houses, all these families,” he said.
The city has now put hundreds of sandbags close by, but Furlano and Klaus say they should have just repaired the dike.
“They’re cute, they’re nice, but it’s the wrong place,” Furlano said.
“It’s just a PR exercise,” said Furlano. “They’re like a sieve, when the water rises, it’ll come right through.”
They feel the only way to get borough Mayor Jim Beis’ attention is to bring the city to small claims court.
“Jim Beis keeps saying he’s got experts, he’s got experts. I’m sure he’s got experts at street cleaning and garbage removal, but I’m also sure he has no experts in flood prevention,” Bodnik told Global News.
He is asking for about $10,000 in compensation, saying the city’s negligence caused damage. Furlano is asking for $15,000. Bodnik says for him, it’s not about the money.
“I would forego the $10,000 if the city builds the dike, puts it back where it was supposed to be,” he said.
Global News reached out to Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Beis for comment. A spokesperson for the borough said there would be no comment, as the matter is before the courts.
The plaintiffs plan to go to Monday’s borough council meeting to tell the mayor just how they feel.