Île-Bizard scrambles to provide sandbags amid flooding threat
Île-Bizard officials are scrambling to provide sandbags for residents amid a heavy rainfall warning that could lead to flooding.
Residents of Île-Bizard and Île-Mercier, just off Montreal’s West Island, say they found out Wednesday there aren’t enough sandbags to protect their homes from potential flooding.
“[Let’s] not wait for the water levels to get too high to deliver materials that citizens need,” argued Pierre-Luc Chauchon, who lives in Île-Mercier.
“[The borough] should calculate the needs before the emergency and prepare well. Other towns have done it, I’m sure we can do it.”
In a Facebook post, Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève Mayor Normand Marinacci told residents, “you are responsible for the protection of your house.”
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When some residents shared their concerns about the heavy rain expected to fall this weekend, the mayor responded, “there are not enough sandbags to protect adequately every house, which is why we encourage citizens to prepare for possible floods and protect their homes.”
On Thursday, Marinacci said 5,000 sandbags were strategically put in high-risk areas, but there are not enough to distribute to every single residence.
“It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to give sand, we will do it. But if residents can help us and buy some sand, we would establish some kind of a partnership between be city and the residents,” Marinacci told Global News.
Both Île-Bizard and Île-Mercier were badly affected by the 2017 spring floods that forced hundreds of residents out of their homes.
“They didn’t move fast enough,” said Jim Butt, who lives 45 metres from the shore.
“Everybody knew what was coming, they waited and waited, and then they got stuck.”
This time, residents said they are asking the borough to be proactive.
“Let’s wait and see. Nature can surprise us sometimes, but let’s also get ready together,”
“Everybody will have what they need to prevent flooding,” said Richard Liebmann, assistant director of the Montreal fire department.
Marinacci said that 100,000 sandbags and 1,100 tonnes of sand in bulk have been ordered in case of a major flood.
Public works employees say a co-ordination centre will be set up on Friday next to city hall for volunteers.
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