First of 56 homes demolished in Ste-Marthe homes after flood damage

Bulldozers were razing Ste-Marthe-sur-la-Lac homes that had been seriously damaged by spring flooding on Friday.

About 6,000 people were suddenly forced from their homes in late April when a dike ruptured in the middle of the night. Since then, the town has issued 56 demolition permits, primarily for mobile homes that had been located closest to the dike. Four homes were torn down on Friday, with another seven or eight set to be demolished on Monday.

While some residents said the demolitions are helping the town turn the page, others said watching the work was very emotional for them. Social workers met with residents in the town’s community centre to help them process the demolition.

"One minute you have a home, five minutes later it's no good," said Francine Sabourin, who lived in her home for seven years.

Sabourin has lived a nomadic existence for the past four months, staying with relatives and friends because she couldn't return home.

"The sad part is that was my retreat. We were so nice here," said Rolland Gariepy, who also lost his home. He said he had to hire his own demolition team, though the government gave him a budget of $12,000.

Gariepy said the city has issued 60 demolition permits for homes deemed uninhabitable.

The province has promised to compensate homeowners, but Gariepy said it has been three months of lugging around their possessions, and they have been largely left on their own.

"We do not know how much we will receive, and we do not know when we will receive it, so it's hard to plan anything," he said.

Last spring, the Quebec government announced a program that provides up to $200,000 to flood victims who have to relocate.

Frustrations with the pace of cleanup and rebuilding in Ste-Marthe have previously boiled over. In June a 38-year-old man who was among those forced from their homes was arrested and charged with dangerous driving and criminal assault after ramming his car into a Red Cross and Public Security office in Ste-Marthe.