Ile Mercier couple battles to save home from flooding as waters rise
On Easter Sunday, Helene Caron was making a fresh batch of her famous oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies at the Ansell household on Ile Mercier, and the whole family was supposed to come over for an Easter party.
“Obviously, that got cancelled,” laughed Burt Ansell, Caron’s husband.
With their home near the shore surrounded by water, their grandchildren will be doing their Easter egg hunt elsewhere.
Officials have recommended the elderly couple evacuate, but they’ve decided to stay put.
“We don’t think upstairs here we’re going to have any problem. Downstairs maybe, but up here no, so I don’t see why we should go,” Ansell explained.
In 2017, Ile Mercier was one of the areas hit hardest by spring floods, and the tiny island adjacent to Ile Bizard is starting to look the same way in 2019.
Back then, Caron gave Global News a tour of the couple’s flood-ravaged basement.
Two years and tens of thousands of dollars later, everything is freshly renovated. Now, it’s all in danger again.
“We’ve got some seepage into the house through the walls and doors and through the garage,” said Ansell. “There’s a little bit of infiltration but there’s four pumps going, and it’s managing to keep the place from flooding.”
Volunteers have helped build a wall of sandbags to keep the water away from the garage. Neighbours and volunteers continued to help the couple on Sunday.
Caron, 69, and Ansell, 78, both recently sustained injuries while trying to prepare their home for the flood. Caron said she fainted on Saturday while stepping over a sandbag, injuring her wrist.
“We’re a little tired, a little exhausted,” said Caron. “We’re doing what we can to keep our spirits up and not just let things happen.”
In spite of the sandbagging, water is coming through a retaining wall and flowing toward their garage.
“This is not good,” said Ansell as he watched the water leak through. “The pumps are not going to take all of this.”
WATCH: Global News coverage of 2019 Quebec floods
As Caron tried to bring the tools from Ansell’s stained glass workshop in the basement up to higher ground, she continued periodically checking on the cookies.
“What do you want me to do? Cry?” she said. “I have to do something.”
In the early afternoon, a fresh group of volunteers arrived. Some were from On Rock, a local non-profit, and others were students from John Abbott College.
“I’ve been waiting for helpers, and they just arrived; I’m so happy,” said Caron.
As the volunteers worked to reinforce the back of the house, she offered them cookies.
Water levels are expected to continue to rise. Will their home and others be destroyed a second time? The coming days hold the answer.
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