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Lives on hold: Gatineau flood victims await OK to rebuild

Six weeks after the churning river outside their front doors burst its banks and flooded their homes, some Gatineau residents remain in limbo, waiting for compensation from the province so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

Flood victims still waiting for compensation details from province

Heavily damaged by floodwater, the rental unit in Anny Coens's basement is now dry and gutted, but she can't begin to rebuild until she finds out how much government compensation she's due. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Six weeks after the churning river outside their front doors burst its banks and flooded their homes, some Gatineau residents remain in limbo, waiting for compensation from the province so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

Their basements are gutted. Anything that touched contaminated water had to go. They've dried out and cleaned up, but the progress stops there. 

Many are now simply waiting for the go-ahead to begin reconstruction, and say they have no idea when it may come. 

Officials from the city and the province held meetings Wednesday night to update residents on the help that is available.


But home owners like Anny Coens are looking for specifics about how much money they'll get, and when.

Coens is dealing with an estimated $43,000 worth of damage to the rental unit in her basement on Rue Cartier.

She's worried that since the damaged unit isn't her primary living space, the province won't cover all her costs.

"I'm [eligible] to get something," said Coens. "But I don't know how much."


The basement is sealed off with plastic sheeting so the humidity won't rise upstairs.

Like many flood victims, Coens has already spent the first cheque from the province to hire crews to mop up her home and rip out sodden drywall and flooring.

A provincial inspector came by to take inventory, but the waiting game continues.

"We can't do anything," said Coens.


Thomas Little, another Rue Cartier resident, owes a restoration company $11,000 for cleaning up his home.

Little lost major appliances and a lot of furniture in the flood.

He grew so tired of living out of a hotel room, he moved back into his gutted basement unit and set up a temporary bed. 

"My life is on hold," said Little. "I'm just sitting around waiting."


Little wants to start rebuilding and can do most of the work himself. But he's hesitant to start until he gets the OK from the province.

Like Coens, Little got a visit from an inspector. Like his neighbour, he's still waiting to hear back.


"I don't know what I'm doing from one day to the next. I have to sit and wait," Little said.

"This is a beautiful house, but it's not functional."