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‘We’ve heard you’: Quebec government to increase aid for Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims

The Quebec government announces additional support for Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims. Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.
The Quebec government announces additional support for Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims. Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Gloria Henriquez/Global News

The Coalition Avenir Quebec government has announced additional measures to help Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims recover from last April’s devastating flood.

On the evening of April 27, a breach in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac’s dike sent water from the Lake of Two Mountains rushing into the streets. In less than an hour, some 1,450 properties were flooded, forcing 6,000 residents from their homes.

Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest said the government will provide up to $17.5 million in financial compensation to the 1,450 flood victims.

“Affected residents won’t have any additional paperwork,” she said, adding residents would be receiving a cheque in the mail.

Laforest explained that the government would match the amount flood victims received for furniture and home belongings under the public security ministry’s general compensation program.

READ MORE: Quebec says it will double down aid for Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims before winter

“It’s unheard of, but the situation is exceptional,” Laforest said of the additional help.

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Other measures announced Friday include a program for guaranteed loans and the deployment of a team of specialists from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) and the Société d’Habitation du Québec (SHQ) to assist homeowners with questions they may have surrounding home renovation and reintegration.

“I heard flood victims describe problems with contractors…we want to avoid them having to pay exorbitant prices,” Laforest said, explaining the team of RBQ and SHQ specialists could help homeowners navigate those kinds of issues.

The team will be on the ground in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac as of Monday for a six-week period.

The guaranteed loan program is for those who need additional funding to carry out renovations.

The program will give them a loan guarantee for a mortgage for up to 95 per cent of the market value of their property, compared to the usual 80 per cent.

Laforest touted the government’s response to the crisis.

In the months following the dike breach, the government made good on its promise to repair and reinforce the dike, she said, offered financial compensation under the general compensation plan and made psycho-social services available for those who needed it.

“We’ve given the maximum we can for Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, and then some,” Laforest said in French, inviting residents to make use of the additional help being offered.

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Not everyone, however, was happy with the new measures.

READ MORE: Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac Residents prepare to file class-action lawsuit

Flood victim Francine Hogue bought a house in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac two years ago. She said her dream was to retire in the small community.

For her, the compensation falls short.

“I’m really disappointed,” she said.

She estimates the losses she incurred in material goods to be around $50,000, but the compensation she received was $10,000. Even with an additional $10,000, she says she’s still $30,000 under.

Hogue said she was really hoping to receive full compensation.

“If Mr. Legault wanted to give us a Christmas gift, I have news for him,” she said. “I will not be celebrating Christmas because I really don’t have the heart to celebrate.”

READ MORE: New maps would put hundreds of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac homes in flood plain

Others, like Laura McGuinigan, also expressed their disappointment.

McGuinigan said she hasn’t had access to government help because she can’t get a contractor to give her the formal quote required to file for it.

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She feels the new measures won’t be of any use to her, and wishes the government had taken the time to listen to homeowners.

“It doesn’t make sense, because they never came to the people and asked,” she said.

“We get the impression they only went through the mayor.”