Cars and pedestrians crossing a bridge is not usually a remarkable scene, but for people living on Île Mercier, it’s a huge deal.
“Yesterday people drove around beeping their horns! It was so happy,” said Île Mercier resident Helene Ansell.
“It was closed for almost 48 days, so yeah, there was a big party,” said Île Mercier resident Sonia Brown.
The only bridge to the tiny island adjacent to Île Mercier had been closed for over six weeks. Until Friday, people could only come and go by boat.
“It feels weird, actually, to drive home instead of walk after three months, and to hear cars driving around. We’re not used to it yet,” said Île Mercier resident Pier-Luc Cauchon.
Areas that were underwater are now dry. Helene and Burt Ansell have just returned after weeks of living in a hotel paid for by the Red Cross.
“Frankly, I don’t really want to wake up in the morning,” said Helene Ansell, taking a break from cleaning her flood-damaged home.
WATCH: (May 16, 2019) Île Mercier residents cut off from homes because of floods
In mid-April, Global News visited the Ansells as volunteers worked frantically to help save their home. Sandbag walls on the back and side of the house helped prevent water from seeping in, but a retaining wall lining their downward sloping driveway gave way. Water then poured into the basement.
“An alarm went off that our pump was working too hard. I went close to the wall, and I said ‘how can we fix this?’ and then Burt pulled me back and it fell. We just had time to come in the house,” said Helene.
The basement had just been renovated after the 2017 flood. They say it cost $95,000, half of which was paid by the government. It was all destroyed again.
“We invest all our retirement money in this house. The sale of this house is supposed to bring us to a ’50 plus’ residence with swimming pool and everything. If there’s no profit, there’s no ’50 plus,’ said Helene.
The couple’s daughter has started a GoFundMe page to help them raise money to repair their home.
At their house and all over the island, there is debris left over from a battle that’s now over.
“Moving sandbags and stuff like this at my age is not easy,” said 79-year-old Burt Ansell.
Lifelong Île Mercier resident Pier Luc Cauchon is organizing a big cleanup on the weekend to help bring the island back to life.
“There’s elderly people, single moms, handicapped people, we need to help them to clean. We want to do it fast and efficiently,” he said.
There will even be free hot dogs from the local IGA. Cauchon said the city, though, has been conspicuously absent from the planning.
“They’re busy,” he said, explaining Île Mercier workers are focusing on other areas. “We have machinery coming to help us, all volunteers, not city machinery.”
‘Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève Mayor Normand Marinacci did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Île Mercier residents hope people from all over show up in large numbers to help on both Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.