Volunteers lend flood victims a helping hand in Pierrefonds-Roxboro

More than 200 volunteers gathered in Pierrefonds-Roxboro Saturday morning to help clean up the damage left behind by the major flooding.

200 volunteers sent to areas around the borough to pick up sandbags, clear garages, remove debris

Volunteers in Pierrefonds help clear debris from a driveway. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Military officials, politicians and residents made up some of the 200 people who gathered in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough on Saturday to help clean up the damage left behind by major flooding that affected communities across Quebec earlier this month.

Volunteers met at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School where they were given tasks and dispatched to four sectors in the borough.

Five STM buses were deployed to shuttle volunteers, who then began picking up sandbags, clearing out garages and removing debris.

For residents now dealing with the aftermath of the floods, the extra help went a long way.

"Me and my husband, we are over 65 and sometimes it is very hard for our back," said Marguerite Tooma, who lives on Lalande Boulevard. 

Pierrefonds resident Marguerite Tooma says the post-flood cleanup has been tough for her and her husband who are both over 65. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

"So I cleaned just a little bit, but I am happy that they came and they took all the sand out."

It was a relief for Michel Cournoyer, who suffers from a brain tumour and a heart condition, when volunteers showed up at his home near the Cap Saint-Jacques park.

"I was discouraged. Whenever I'd come back home, I'd look at it and think, 'How am I going to do that?'"

He added that now he can continue to clean up at his own pace since volunteers were able to empty out his flood-damaged garage.

"I didn't expect they would do so much," he said. "It's unbelievable. They really did a great job."

Volunteers were shuttled in STM buses to 4 sectors in Pierrefonds-Roxboro to help in the post-flood cleanup efforts. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Too little, too late for others

Some residents, however, felt they could've used the help much sooner.

"They're three weeks too late," said Roxboro resident Kevin Daveluy.

By the time volunteers arrived, he said, there was no more work to be done.

The borough said it believes this weekend was the right time to clean up as waterlogged properties had time to dry up.

The flood waters have left behind an awful mess. Ottawa and Gatineau are taking extraordinary measures to clean in up, including special garbage collection, and a "Solidarity Blitz". (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he was proud of the work that blue collar workers, volunteers and others had done since the flooding. 

He addressed the crowd at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School ahead of the big cleanup Saturday to thank them.

"I'm sending a strong message that you are not alone," he said, before striking a more sober note. "It's not over yet."

Flooding caused major damage to many homes across Quebec in April and May.

Rising floodwaters affected 261 municipalities and damaged more 4,000 homes, according to Urgence Québec.

Pierrefonds-Roxboro was one the most heavily-hit regions in Montreal as high water levels infiltrated backyards, basements and kitchens.

with files from Antoni Nerestant