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Quebec Flood Victims Say They Feel 'Betrayed' By Government

Quebecers protested the government's response in Montreal.

09/10/2017 17:26 EDT | Updated 09/10/2017 17:27 EDT
Graham Hughes/Canadian Press
People attend a rally in support of spring flood victims in Montreal on Sunday.

MONTREAL — Four months after spring flooding sent more than two metres of water rushing into her home, Katy Deschenes says she still has no idea of whether she'll be able to rebuild the home where she raised six children.

And with cold weather approaching and no heat in her home, the resident of Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que., says she's feeling increasingly desperate.

She's still waiting for the province to send her the inspection report for her home, which will tell her how much compensation she might get — and if she's allowed to rebuild at all.

"We feel betrayed, desperate," said Deschenes, 47. "The government made us promises, they tell us everything will go well, then weeks later it's something else."

Deschenes was one of several dozen people who attended a rally on Montreal's West Island on Sunday to protest the government's response to the spring floods.

We feel betrayed, desperate.Katy Deschenes

They waved signs that read "flooded victims forgotten" and "no insulation, no heat, no hope."

Many of them said they haven't received any financial assistance and are having trouble getting information on the status on their files.

Some, like Deschenes, say they can't afford to begin the tens of thousands of dollars in repairs they're facing without financial help.

Rene Leblanc, who helped organize the rally, says the entire process has been rife with "inconsistencies and misleading information."

Christinne Muschi/Reuters
An overhead view showing flooded Deux-Montagnes, Que., on May 11, 2017.

He says it's not clear why some people have received money while others haven't, or why the government didn't move faster to hire more staff to help process the files.

"I can't believe that this is the country that I know, the town the province where I live," he said. "Canada has always been known for its safety net, but it doesn't appear the system we thought was there to help us is actually there."

The provincial government says 278 municipalities were flooded this spring and more than 5,000 residences affected, while 4,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux has repeatedly asked the public for patience as the government works its way through thousands of requests for assistance.

In July, he said the government had already spent more than $23 million and hired another 90 people to speed up the process.

But many of the residents at Sunday's event said they were tired of waiting.

Marie-Anne Toussaint, 66, attended the rally with a sign that said "I want to go home."

She's still living in a hotel and getting assistance from the Red Cross while waiting for financial aid to arrive.

Toussaint, who is retired, says she lives on a pension and can't afford the repairs to her Pierrefonds home, which are estimated at more than $70,000.

I don't feel heard. Nobody's listening.Jan Wilkinson

Jan Wilkinson, an office worker who lives in Ile Mercier, Que., said the flooding damaged the base of her home and left her water pipes exposed.

She says she's submitted her paperwork, had her home inspected, called the Quebec ministry's phone number repeatedly, and even written letters to Coiteux and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But after all that she says she still doesn't have an inspection report and is no closer to knowing whether she'll get a permit to repair her home before the pipes start freezing and she has to leave again.

"I don't feel heard," she said at the rally. "Nobody's listening."

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