As the water recedes in Beauceville, merchants face uncertainty and despair
'We lost everything. It was our dream, our future'
Two days after the Chaudière River flooded Beauceville, some downtown merchants wonder if they'll ever recover.
"Everything was destroyed," said Karine Malenfant, the co-owner of Le Loft, a bar and bowling alley. "The walls are destroyed. All the equipment is beyond recovery and same with the furniture. The supplies are gone; the computer is gone.
"We lost everything. It was our dream, our future. We invested all our money here, all our time, all our energy."
About 300 buildings, including 230 homes, were flooded Tuesday when an ice jam gave way. The water rose quickly, carrying chunks of ice, garbage cans and even propane tanks onto the road.
Malenfant and her husband opted to spend Monday night at their business so they could respond if the floodwaters rose. But the strength and speed of the flood was beyond what they could deal with.
"The door completely exploded," she said. "Outside, I saw animals running: mice, rats. Water was rushing in everywhere."
The water poured inside, bringing with it huge blocks of ice and sweeping Malenfant right off her feet.
"I have bruises," she said. "I was hit by chunks of ice. I survived by grabbing onto a piece of equipment. We had to get out from the roof."
Now, as they face cleaning up and rebuilding, Malenfant and her husband are at a loss. The property was uninsured. The couple has no other income.
The owner of the Normandy restaurant, Marquis Fortin, has has seen several floods in the 35 years he has lived in Beauceville.
He did everything he could to protect his business, but the flooding this year was unprecedented, he said.
The floodwaters came in two waves, and although Fortin and his employees built a dam with sandbags and pumped the water out, it was a losing battle.
Then an explosion occurred, probably caused by a gas leak, and the entire building moved.
"All the menus jumped on the tables. The pressure caused a whistling sound. We felt the building shake. The power went out," he said.
"I've seen a lot of disasters, but now I'm completely helpless. I don't know what to do. We're waiting for the insurance inspectors to assess it."
"There are disasters every four or five years.... I was preparing my retirement, but now I don't know anymore."
With files from Radio-Canada's Jean-François Nadeau and Charles D'Amboise