Waters rising

J.D. Potié
PONTIAC April 19-22, 2019
One Pontiac resident has died after floods hit multiple municipalities in the region, over Easter weekend.
In the early hours of April 20, 72-year-old Pontiac resident Louise Séguin Lortie was driving on chemin Bronson-Bryant, a steep road in Quyon, when her car suddenly fell into a creekbed, caused by a washed out culvert.
According to a press release issued by Sgt. Martin Fournel of the MRC des Collines Police, at the time of the crash, the victim was alone and unable to react in time to avoid the accident. The crash was reported by amotorist who attempted to rescue the victim.
The victim was taken to hospital where her death was later confirmed, Fournel said.
The investigation remains ongoing.
In the days following the incident, the victim’s family members and community residents visited the site, brought flowers and paid their respects to Séguin Lortie.
Many of them declined to be interviewed or comment on what happened.
As a long-time Quyon resident, Séguin Lortie was a presence as a volunteer in the community, according to Quyon business owner Leona Murdock.
“She was a lovely lady,” said Murdock. “She ran the halfway house down in Luskville… it’s really sad. She was always out and doing something for people in the community.”
“There’s never a good time for things like this to happen,” she added. “It’s always terrible. But, on Easter? This is just an awful thing to hear about.”
A GoFundMe has been set up in her name and can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y49ouwc2
For the third year in a row, the Municipality of Pontiac is facing a 20-year flood.
The high-water mark for the 0 to 20 year flood plain is 60.23 metres. With water levels expected to rise later this week, the municipality could be facing its 100-year flood in just three years.
At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Joanne Labadie gave an update on the situation in the municipality.
Despite the fact that rainfall totals were less than forecasted, Labadie said the impact on the municipality is still significant.
She said that around 300 residences have been affected by this year’s floods – ranging in severity from direct impact to a residence to road washouts causing some residents to be stranded.
Labadie said that the municipality has implemented measures based off of the post mortem report from the 2017 spring floods that hit the municipality.
Although the report has not been made public, Labadie said that municipal staff have been using it as an operational guideline.
Labadie said the reason the report has not been made available to the public is a matter of timing. She said that the report was in the process of being translated when the floods hit, and it should be released soon.
On Saturday, the Municipality of Pontiac called on all residents over the age of 13 to fill sandbags at the town hall to help prevent rising water-levels from further devastating parts of the community.
The next day, members of the Royal 22nd Regiment were in Quyon to assist with sandbagging. The troops piled bags around the town’s pumping station, a low lying senior’s residence and strengthened the dike along rue Ferry. They assisted filling sandbags in Luskville on Monday, and Mansfield on Tuesday. Labadie was also visiting vulnerable areas throughout the weekend and on Sunday was accompanied by councillor Isabelle Patry.
Labadie said that it was a relief for the rain to hold off, but that she would rather be overprepared than underprepared.
As of April 22, more than 70,000 sandbags were distributed to residents with many volunteers working long hours to fill sandbags for their neighbours.
The river is expected to reach its maximum level by April 27.
Residents were provided access to the bags which were stationed at three separate locations, including Town Hall in Luskville, the Public Works Garage in Quyon and the Breckenridge Fire Hall.
For Luskville resident Alan Ritchie, the initiative to fill sand bags at Town Hall felt like less of a choice than an obligation. With so many friends and family affected by the flood, Ritchie felt reassured when he saw a large crowd of fellow residents hard at work for the good of their community.
“It makes a big difference,” said Ritchie. “A lot of times I think we don’t get the same resources and services that are available in the city. Well, that’s the country lifestyle. Everyone living that lifestyle kind of understands it. So, everybody just pitches in and that’s what makes it work.”
In Fort-Coulonge, the soccer field at La Patro looked closer to a lake than a sports venue, as the nets were nearly halfway submerged below water. But, at least the main road and the skate park remained unharmed.
In Clarendon, a large section of Chemin Laughren, located near concessions 12 and 13, was completely washed out on Saturday.
Several roads in Clarendon, Danford Lake and Thorne were swamped, as well as parts of Norway Bay.
On Chemin Dion, in Luskville, many properties and roadways were almost completely submerged in water.
After checking out the area’s water level marking post on Monday morning, neighborhood resident Al Goulet said the water was right on the precipice of causing more damage than in 2017.
“People probably shouldn’t come around here with their cars,” said Goulet. “At least, for right now.”

A comparison of the waterfront in Quyon from Thursday (above) to Sunday (below), showing the dramatic rise in the water levels.

Letters, momentos and flowers from the victim’s family members sit next to the site of the accident where Louise Séguin Lortie lost her life.

Officials from several different branches of the public service were on hand in Quyon on Sunday to coordinate the flood response. From left: Councillor Isabelle Patry, Mayor Joanne Labadie, Capt. Vincent Ladéroute and Eric Leduc of the Ministry of Civil Security.

Members of the Royal 22nd Regiment (“The Vandoos”) were helping fortify sections of Quyon with sandbags on Sunday. Pictured, one of their amphibious personnel carriers rolls up rue Ferry.

Municipal brass gave an update on the flooding that has hit the Municipality of Pontiac at the Luskville Town Hall on Monday. From left: MRC des Collines Public Safety Chief Yves Charette, Municipality of Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie and Fire Chief Richard Groulx.

A view of the washout on chemin Laughren in Clarendon as of April 20.

A shed almost completely submerged under water on Chemin Dion in Luskville, as of Monday morning.

The pumphouse in Quyon was well fortified by Sunday as troops from the Royal 22nd Regiment used their manpower to sandbag vulnerable areas in the community.

With files from Chris Lowrey and Caleb Nickerson.


*  This article is available only to subscribers of the Premium or Online Edition memberships.  *

If you have already subscribed please login using your email address and password. If not then please subscribe to the online edition using our Subscribe page.