Residents of Sainte-Marie watched as the first of almost 60 houses were demolished in the downtown area Monday following major flooding this spring.
Some say they are relieved; others, heartbroken. For Jean-Bernard Gilbert, it’s a little of both.
“I cried a lot this morning,” he said. “Because it’s my house. But now we can move on to the next step.”
Gilbert’s home was demolished to the ground Monday morning. In the last 13 years, it has been been flooded four times, but not to the extent that he and his family experienced this past spring. There were three feet of water on the first floor.
The family also lost more than just their house.
“I have a cat and he’s not there. He go away in the water,” explained Gilbert’s five-year old daughter, Olivia. “And I was loving her.”
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The family is trying to move on. They bought another house, thanks to a loan from close friends while they wait for compensation from the province. Gilbert says many of his neighbours aren’t as lucky.
“There are others who will have to move into an apartment,” he said.
Sylvia Roy does not want to see her house demolished.
“I don’t feel like our house is garbage,” she said. “I want to have the right to fix my house. I want to have the right to move my house.”
For that, she said she would forgo all public compensation, but she said neither the city nor the public security ministry will give her permission. According to the ministry of municipal affairs, new rules require that if damage caused by flooding is higher than 50 percent of the value of the building, that building must be demolished. However, municipalities are allowed to set their own level of damage. The city of Sainte-Marie has required homes with damage higher than 33 percent of its value must be demolished.
Another one of her neighbours is also in the same boat.
“It’s very painful,” said Normand Nadeau who was born and raised in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce and currently lives in the house that used to belong to his parents.
Normand said he hasn’t been given any other choice than to let it be destroyed.
Local CAQ MNA Luc Provençal wants to remind people that those houses slated for demolition have been evaluated by several people.
“My building is not the problem, the river is the problem,” insisted Roy.
On this point, Provençal agrees. He said he plans to urge his government to invest in new technology and infrastructure to control river levels, but for this neighbourhood, it is already too late for their homes to be saved.