West Island flood victims being kicked out of hotel, with nowhere to go

A West Island couple who were flooded out of their Pierrefonds home last spring says they have no idea where they'll be staying on Saturday night, after they were told they would have less than 48 hours to vacate the hotel they've been staying in since the flood.

Vasso Petrisi and her husband Sophocles Panagakos have been in limbo since May, when they vacated their home and took up residence at a nearby Comfort Inn. In those 11 months, there hasn't been much of a definitive word as to what will happen next.

Their Pierrefonds home is a total loss, and last week, they were given legal papers to authorize the home's demolition. Petrisi says they need time to have the papers looked over by a lawyer before they can give the go-ahead for the demolition to proceed.

At that time, a representative from the Public Security ministry informed them they'd be able to stay at the hotel, on their dime, through the end of the month to allow that process to happen, and to find other, more permanent living arrangements.

They phoned the Red Cross to make the arrangements to stay at the Comfort Inn for another two more weeks, but suddenly, on Thursday morning, the Red Cross informed them they would have to be out of the hotel by Saturday morning.

'We want you to leave'

"We receive a call from the Red Cross: 'I'm sorry, we have bad news.'" Petrisi told CJAD 800 through Your Story. "'As of Saturday morning, we're not going to continue to pay for your room. We want you to leave. And if you decide to stay, you'll have to pay out of pocket.'"

Petrisi is upset that the Public Security ministry, who made the decision, didn't inform them in writing about that decision, and well enough in advance.

They have an appointment with a lawyer on Friday morning, in an effort to have the question of where they'll stay beyond Saturday night settled.

"My choice is to stay here until I finalize everything, and they give us the money to put down to make an offer to buy another house," she says. "Without the money, we cannot go anywhere."

The frustration with having to deal with governments in the wake of the flood crisis is nothing new. Petrisi said they were told back in May their two-story home would have to be demolished, but two months later, they were told it could be repaired. In the fall, the government changed their minds again, and told them the home was a total loss.

"They never give us a straight answer or they avoid us to know the truth," Petrisi told CJAD 800's Shuyee Lee in an interview last November. "Very, very frustrating."

Petrisi says had they been given a more definitive plan as to what to do next, they would have been able to salvage some of the family mementoes which are now gone.