Monday May 08, 2017

'Everything is gone': Montreal resident describes 3 a.m. evacuation to escape flooding

Camille Delpesche, pictured with her young sons Jah-Vinci and Jah-Marley, outside their home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. The family's house flooded early morning Sunday, and they had 10 minutes to evacuate.

Camille Delpesche, pictured with her young sons Jah-Vinci and Jah-Marley, outside their home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. The family's house flooded early morning Sunday, and they had 10 minutes to evacuate. (Camille Delpesche, Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

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Camille Delpesche was asleep when she heard the knock. It was about 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, and firefighters were pounding on the door of her Montreal basement apartment to warn her she had to leave. Flood waters were rising, and there wasn't much time. 

Later that day, Montreal would declare a state of emergency. Flooding across Quebec worsened over the weekend, and on Monday more than 1,500 Canadian Forces members were deployed across the province to stack sandbags and help in the relief effort. 

Camille Delpesche

Camille Delpesche was awoken by the sounds of urgent banging on her front door in the early hours of Sunday morning by Montreal firefighters, warning that her home was about to flood. (Camille Delpesche)

Delpesche said she had about 10 minutes to gather her family and grab a few belongings before their apartment was inundated. They're now staying at a nearby hotel. She spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off on Monday afternoon. 

CAROL OFF: You have two kids. How were they responding to this? Were they awake at the same time? 

CAMILLE DELPESCHE: No, they were asleep. I had to get them up and try to get them dressed and out of the house, and when they went outside, they were shocked because they don't know what's going on. Their boots started getting filled with water, so my son started crying — I just had to try to calm him down and try to get him away from the situation as fast as I could. 

delpeche-kids

Camille Delpeche had to leave her apartment with her two sons, Jah-Vinci and Jah-Marley, pictured, and her husband, early Sunday morning. (Camille Delpeche)

CO: Does it look like you won't be able to go back to that apartment? 

CD: Well, we can't go back there to live, that's for sure. But I don't know if the water is as high inside as it is outside, so I could at least save a few things that were on a high level. But I'm just not hoping for too much right now. I think everything is gone. I'm just trying to think positive and think of how we're going to do this, to start over. 

Camille Delpesche's video of flooding outside her home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville0:14

CO: Camille, how are you holding up? How are you doing? 

CD: Well, I'm trying to cope, because right now my husband is pretty sick. Last night he had a really high fever and his body ached. And I'm trying to be strong for all of us right now, because the kids, they're pretty rambunctious. So I'm trying to just not be too frustrated and trying to think positive. 

CO: And I understand, Camille, that you're pregnant. How are you doing? 

CD: I'm just — I don't even know. It's different from when I was pregnant with my kids. I'm having different symptoms. I'm consistently hungry, I'm nauseous, I'm irritated — just everything. But there's not much I can do. I have to be strong, because I don't want my kids to see I'm breaking down and then they start worrying too much. Because right now they're not really paying too much attention to what's happening, because at least we're in a comfortable place sleeping and they're getting food. 

CO: You're carrying a lot. 

CD: Well, it is what it is. I can't run from it — I have to face it. 

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Camille Delpesche.