Floods: Showing support in a crisis


Running on adrenaline and desperately hoping to minimize the damage, they built a sandbag wall.

Nathalie Slight | Journalist

In May 2017, heavy rainfall and melting snow from the Laurentians caused the water levels of Lac des Deux Montagnes to rise dangerously high. For Chantal Bertrand, it was a disaster waiting to happen. 

"You could see the water rising toward our property: first up to our shed, then into our crawl space. Every day, firefighters dropped off sandbags to help us protect our homes. We barely slept the nights of May 4, 5 and 6."

Running on adrenaline and desperately hoping to minimize the damage, they built a sandbag wall: "Everyone along the river helped. Our friends came to help and even complete strangers pitched in."

Forced to evacuate
On May 7, at 4 a.m., the wall collapsed, unleashing a wave of flood water on 13th Avenue in Deux-Montagnes.

"I'll never forget my partner yelling to me: 'Chantal, we've got to get out of the house!' In the middle of the night, we were forced out of our home by a tsunami of water. We came back by boat over the next 3 days to try to save as much as possible. It felt like a bad dream!" 

While they waited for the flood waters to recede, a friend offered them a place to stay at a small apartment. They soon realized though that the situation was going to take time--a long time--to resolve, so they rented a small house, on a month-by-month basis, for themselves and their 2 children. 

After the flood
Once the water levels fell, to prevent the spread of mold, Chantal and her partner ripped out the water-damaged parts of their home, which sits empty.

"In July, an inspector visited and that's the last we've heard. We're in the same situation as hundreds of other flood victims: we can't start rebuilding because we don't know how much help the government will give us or when we'll receive it."

While Chantal leaned on loved ones for emotional support, Desjardins was able to offer her some financial relief. "Our financial institution was quick to offer special arrangements: they allowed us to defer our mortgage for up to 6 months and froze the interest on our credit cards. It really took some of the financial pressure off. It's one less thing to worry about so we can focus on the future. As the saying goes," adds Chantal optimistically, "After the rain comes the rainbow!" 

3 tips from Chantal
1. Inventory
Take a photo of each room in your house and all your belongings. Should you ever need to make a claim, you'll have proof of what you owned. 

Good to know: to taking an inventory of your belongings, you also have to:
      • Make a list of your most valuable items (furniture, jewellery, electronics, computers, household appliances and antiques).
      • Keep receipts and user manuals.
      • Save a copy of your inventory (list, pictures, receipts and user manuals) outside your home, like with a friend of family member.
2. Receipts
After a flood, fire or other incident, keep your receipts for any temporary housing or other necessities you need to purchase. That way you'll have proof of all your expenses. 

3. Emergency measures
Make an appointment with your financial institution to find out what arrangements are available to help temporarily relieve financial pressures during such a difficult time.

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