Flooding in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-lac, QC

Hey everyone.

The reason that I haven’t been writing so much the last few days is that on Saturday night, 27th of April, my town was flooded. I’m not talking about humidity in the basement kind of flooding, I mean cars pushed away, cops and firefighters going door to door and giving people as little as one minute to leave.

Possessions and pets were abandoned in the melee that ensued. Over 6,000 people, a third of my town, were evacuated and over 2,000 houses flooded. A dike, which some claim was ill-maintained, broke, and all hell broke loose.

At 8 PM, we had just finished watching The Secret Life of Pets (which was hilarious by the way), we put the kids to bed, and … the power cut.

I counted to 10, as I always do, hoping the it would come back on. Instead we were treated to a spectacular chorus of sirens from the fire department and seemingly every cop car in the province. I stepped outside to see what was happening, and a neighbor told me the dike had broken and some streets were being evacuated. It was pitch black and terrifying.

This picture is taken with Google’s awesome Night Sight. I was WAY darker than that.

I went back in the house. My son was already up, panicking slightly. I gave him the task of holding the flashlight while I awkwardly carried valuables (to me) from the basement to the main floor. About 15 minutes later we were ready to go.

We went out with our two cars so as not to leave them to get flooded. We decided on a rendez-vous point, which we reached quickly. It was decided that my wife would go to her parents, while I would go back and try to help as I could. As it turns out the bridge to go to her parent’s house was closed, for, the same reason, so we ended up going to my sister’s.

As I returned I was greeted by the sight of two yellow school buses full of police officers on my street, on their way to evacuate a old people’s home right on the water. The water was already halfway up the street to my house from the lake, and the street parallel to mine was already flooded.

I went back inside the house, but stupidly didn’t use the time I had to move more things upstairs. I wasn’t thinking right. I’m still not.

I left to go join my wife and kids. It was really eerie. The police and military presence was overwhelming, in a good way. At least we felt that we weren’t left to fend for ourselves

As I walked back to my car I was greeted by the sight of a military armored amphibious vehicle, along with more soldiers and police officers.

After driving for what seemed like an eternity we made it to my dad’s apartment, which was unused as he was in Florida. I broke down in tears in the street as I realized I left all our family’s pictures on the floor in the basement.

Now 5 days have passed. We are staying at my dad’s place, which is not ideally located for us, but is warm and dry and safe. My kids have gone back to school and daycare, and I’ve gone to work one day this week so far. I go to our house every day to see if the water has receded but so far, it hasn’t.

Today we tried pumping out the water with two powerful pumps, but the groundwater is still too high, it drops by about 10 inches and then no amount of pumping does anything. A friend helped me clear out some soaked belongings to the yard. 40 years of treasured possessions lie in a broken, soggy heap outside. It’s both tougher and easier than I thought, mentally speaking. One heck of a way to declutter.

This is the same view as the picture above, 5 days later. They are furiously pumping water back into the lake, but it’s going to take some doing. The lake is 1,500 feet away and the area affected, immense.

Thankfully, I was able so save many books, and some photo albums survived. I even think that I’ll be able to rescue most of the photos which are now floating all around the basement.

When we compare ourselves with others who were flooded, we got it easy. It’s not easy, bear in mind, but still. My street is flooded, sure, but my land is dry. All the water came up through the sump pit. My rear neighbor has electricity so I can plug a pump in. When all’s said and done we’ll have had about 25 inches of water in the basement. People I know have their entire basement completely flooded, and other neighbors can kayak through their house. Other house, mainly mobile homes have simply been knocked off their foundation.

Some folks have lost everything, barely go out with their lives. If this had happened in the middle of the night instead of at dinner time, there would have been dozens of casualties.

For my family, the bad news is that even though we’ve been luckier than some (most?), we’re still evacuated, and we can’t go back home for a while, as we can’t pump the water out and we have no power, so no heat, light, refrigerator, nothing.

The kids are safe, my wife is safe, and so am I.

Bump in the road.

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