Shoreline residents say flood prevention is possible, call buyouts 'insulting'
Shoreline residents in Ste. Geneviève say the work they've done over the past three weeks to keep flood waters out of their community proves prevention is possible.
"I think we have a high chance of success here," said Greg Fisher, whose basement had four feet of water in it, during the floods of 2017.
Today, he and his neighbours are bone dry, thanks to a single continuous temporary wall that runs from one end of the neighbourhood to the other, through hedges and around pools, that has so far held the water back.
"I hope it serves as a model for the city in terms of what can be done," he said. "We don't have to just accept it and roll over."
Maintaining the wall has been a constant and demanding endeavour for the community that is made up of mostly seniors and retirees, according to Fisher.
"We can't expect people to do this all the time," said Dale Holloway, who is married to Fisher and has lived in Ste. Geneviève for over 21 years. "People are exhausted."
She says the government should be investing in permanent infrastructure that mimics the wall the community has built, instead of talking about $200 thousand buyouts for people who live in flood-prone areas.
"We're not going to be able to afford housing like this if they're going to buy us out at such a miserably low rate, an insultingly low rate," she said, noting that some of the waterfront properties in their neighbourhood were valued at over $1 million before the floods two years-ago.
"With a little bit of engineering and thought, I'm sure there are all kinds of things that we could do if this is going to become a regular event," Fisher said.
"Hey, if the Dutch can do it and live below sea level, why can't we, right?"
One town over, Pierrefonds Mayor Jim Beis says he will fight tooth and nail to make sure permanent infrastructure gets built to protect his residents.
"I visited the area with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I told her the importance of the government allowing us, and helping us build natural dikes," Beis said, in an interview with CJAD 800's Andrew Carter.
After 2017, the borough made the decision to build up a number of municipal parks on the shoreline, which has helped keep the waters at bay this time around, according to Beis.
"A lot of the areas that have these dikes, of course supplemented by sandbags and other modular systems, have held up and so we know that this technology works," he said.
Now, he says the government should pay to finish the job.
"For any small community across Quebec, it would be impossible for us to absorb these costs," he said.
Only 11 eleven homes have had to be evacuated in Pierrefonds because of the flooding this year, compared to well over 100, in 2017.
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