Montreal

Mother Nature no match for these two clever Quebecers

Mother Nature may be tough, but Jan van Kessel and Olivier Ishii-Landry are clever — and so far the two Quebecers are winning their fight against flooding.

Jan van Kessel and Olivier Ishii-Landry use their technical smarts to outfox floodwaters

Jan van Kessel, right, and Cameron McGee take a break from shoring up the flood defences around van Kessel's Hudson home. The home remains dry despite the knee-high water all around. (Jan van Kessel)

Mother Nature may be tough, but Jan van Kessel and Olivier Ishii-Landry are clever — and so far, the two Quebecers are winning their fight against flooding.

Both men have used their technical smarts to keep their homes largely dry as flood waters rose around them.

In van Kessel's case, the water is knee-deep or higher around his home in Hudson, Que., on the Lake of Two Mountains, west of Montreal.

Inside, however, you would hardly know the Ottawa River is lapping at his door.

A native of the Netherlands, the car-wash robotics engineer attributes a good part of his triumph to a homemade computer system that controls three of the nine pumps around his home.

"We time exactly and how much they need to run so they don't burn out," he told CBC Montreal.

WATCH: CBC's Simon Nakonechny speaks with Jan van Kessel

Ingenuity and community

Kessel also had help from a small army of community volunteers who have helped build a sandbag dike around parts of his home. That support has been key to keeping his hope afloat, he said.

"The community helps a lot. You worry about things you have control over, and there are certain things you have no control over," he said. "All you can do is keep on working at it and make sure that you stay positive and keep on going."

News that the water in the Ottawa River may be starting to recede was yet another reason for him to keep going.

"Up to [Sunday], it was like, we'll see, it was a personal challenge to see how far I can take it before I surrender," van Kessel said.

Now, if all goes well, the most the inside of his home will need is a good spring cleaning.

"The time is appropriate for that," he said.

Call the plumber

The fact Olivier Ishii-Landry has been able to keep his Île Mercier home largely dry is no less impressive.

The tiny island off Montreal's Île Bizard is underwater and many neighbouring homes have been damaged or evacuated.

Plumber Olivier Ishii-Landry, left, is putting his know-how to use trying to save his home on Île Mercier. He's been helped in his efforts to save his home and those of others on the island by Dany Veleno, right. (Olivier Ishii-Landry)

Ishii-Landry, however, is a plumber by trade and has put his know-how to good use, along with about six pumps of varying sizes.

"I was able to set up a system that allows me to carefully monitor the water rate that was coming in, so I'm able to pump it out faster than it comes in," he told CBC's Homerun.

Part of that system involves a network of pipes that comes up through holes he's cut in the floorboards upstairs and channels the pumped water outside.

The only catch is that, between keeping his house dry and helping his neighbours, Ishii-Landry hasn't had much sleep.

He got his family off the island when the situation took a turn for the worse, staying behind alone to save their house.

"I have water rising from the bottom, coming through the windows and door. Water coming in through cracks and all the holes it can find," he said.

"I'm pumping it out as fast as I can."

With files from Simon Nakonechny and CBC's Homerun

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