It’s been two
years since the residents of Leo Lane fought bravely against
Mother Nature and the Ottawa River before they were finally
forced to give into the inevitable and abandon their homes
to the rising water.
The result was
both devastating and costly. Michel Potvin had to replace
his entire foundation, the subfloor, the hardwood flooring
and several appliances at a cost of more than $300,000.
and Sahondra Larivée lost dozens of personal effects after
the water filled their basement and rose two feet above
the main floor.
and Chris Blenkiron had to replace their flooring and most
of the drywall in their home, as did Rollande and Frank
Roberge. The two couples joined forces to purchase a coffer
dam in the aftermath of the 2017 flood at a cost of $35,000
each, hoping they might never have to use it. Little did
they know they would need it just two years later to prevent
another potential disaster.
A coffer dam
is a large section of heavy vinyl tubing that is inflated
with water. For the past 10 days the dam has kept the homes
on Leo Lane relatively dry, but it has been nip and tuck
for the past few days as the Ottawa River has threatened
to over- flow the five foot high dam and thousands of sandbags
that have been filled and put in place by a small army of
volunteers, some of whom have been on site every day since
the call went out for help.
Saturday, the army showed up to help with the operation.
It’s literally been all hands on deck since the first forecast
came in predicting major flooding. In that, the residents
of Leo Lane are way ahead of where they were in 2017.
No one was prepared
for what happened two years ago. The water rose so high
and so fast, there was no time to call in the army or recruit
hundreds of volunteers and the City was slow to react as
turned the power off in the hope of convincing the last
remaining residents to vacate their homes. Some were even
promised that emergency workers would keep their pumps from
running out of gas. By the next morning the street was deserted,
the pumps had fallen silent and the sandbag walls, which
the residents and volunteers had spent so much blood, sweat
and tears maintaining, had collapsed and allowed the water
to inundate their homes.
No one wants
a repeat of 2017, least of all the residents who have no
intention of abandoning their homes this time around no
matter how high the water rises, or the power is shut off.
They are staying
to the bitter end to protect their homes and their property
and Mother Nature be damned.
Whether or not
they are fighting a losing battle remains to be seen. The
water barely rose at all on Sunday and as of Monday afternoon
the dam and the sandbags were still holding. The fear is
that it’s just a break in the conflict.
The 2017 flood
occurred in mid-May during the second of two high water
events that normally occur along the Ottawa River basin
every year, although hardly ever as severely as what occurred
Two years ago,
the initial flooding occurred in late April. For the next
two weeks the water receeded about two feet when the second
flood hit, made worse by three days of heavy rain which
ended up causing all the damage.
The thought that
they might have to man the battlements again in the next
two weeks is mindnumbing.
If the water
doesn’t recede fast enough and low enough then the impact
of the second flood event could be even worse than in 2017.
One thing for
sure is that the sandbags won’t be coming down anytime soon.
At least not until the danger has passed and the water begins
to recede which will take several weeks. And then the long
and arduous task of cleaning up what the river has left
behind can begin.
If the battle
is won and the residents emerge victorious, they can thank
the hundreds of volunteers who answered the call to help.
Most are from the area, but some have come from as far away
as Toronto. They’ve filled and placed thousands of sandbags
all day, every day, while others have been busy making hot
lunches for them. It’s enough to restore one’s faith in
the human spirit.
The hope is that
many of them will return in a month’s time to clean up the
mess the river will undoubtedly leave behind, not to mention
the thousands of sandbags that will have to be removed and
disposed of. Only then will everyone be able to breath a
collective sigh of relief.
(If you wish
to comment on this or any other View Point column please
write to Fred Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org)