August 19, 2019 by THE CANADIAN PRESS
STE-MARTHE-SUR-LE-LAC, Que. – Four months after a dike ruptured and forced 6,000 people from the town of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, demolition work has begun on flood-stricken homes in the community west of Montreal.
Roland Gariepy, 77, paid a visit to his old neighbourhood Friday to watch the first homes being demolished.
The modular home he lived in his with his wife will be knocked down next Wednesday, a difficult moment for many seniors like him who chose the community as the place to retire.
“It was a paradise here,” Gariepy said. “We had several friends, but now everyone is gone. The houses are empty and will be demolished.”
Gariepy explained that the destruction of the homes represents the loss of a community.
“Sometimes I could take three hours to mow my lawn because everyone stopped by to chat,” he said. “It was good. That way of life disappears.”
City officials weren’t available on Friday, but 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.
Gariepy said many elderly are among the victims, vulnerable people who are waiting to receive compensation.
“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.