Nova Scotia

New Glasgow woman hopes town will buy her home after flood

Michelle Langille's house and car were flooded after heavy rainfall on Canada Day. She says much of the water gushed out of a culvert behind her house and two catch basins by her property weren't able to drain it. She is now looking for compensation from the Town of New Glasgow, N.S.

Michelle Langille says a culvert that's connected to the town's infrastructure caused the flooding

Michelle Langille's home and property on Trenton Road in New Glasgow, N.S., were damaged in a flood after heavy rain on Canada Day. (Submitted by Michelle Langille)

A New Glasgow, N.S., woman says Canada Day flooding that damaged her home was caused by infrastructure that belongs to the town, but an official says the catch basins belong to her and are her responsibility to maintain.

Michelle Langille hopes the town will buy her property.

"I'm not looking for, like, hundreds and thousands of dollars payout. My home wasn't expensive, I know that. But it was my home. I'd just like a fair price for my home and damages," she said.

Langille, who has lived on Trenton Road for 22 years, said it was raining heavily on the night of the flood. She said she and her husband woke up around 2 a.m. after hearing something downstairs.

When they went to check it out, Langille said they discovered water about half a metre deep throughout the house.

This is the culvert behind Langille's house. (Submitted by Michelle Langille)

Langille's property is on land that dips below street level, so her car, which was parked in the driveway, was also submerged in flood water. Their back deck had also washed away.

She said she immediately called town officials for help.

'Very stressful'

"It's been very, very stressful because we cannot live in the house whatsoever because of the water damage and the heat in it," she said.

Langille said she thinks the flood was caused by water rushing through a culvert behind her property.

"The flow from [the town's] infrastructure is going into the culvert and … those pipes there cannot obviously handle the load to take it away. And it's my property that's always being damaged," she said.

Earl MacKenzie, an engineer for the Town of New Glasgow, said there is nothing wrong with the town's piping system.

The culvert behind her property is owned by the American railway company, Genesee & Wyoming.

Catch basin dispute

MacKenzie said the reason Langille's property flooded appeared to be because two catch basins (grated drains located outdoors) had not been cleared.

Those drains, he said, are not part of the town's infrastructure.

MacKenzie said during rainfalls, town staff check brooks, grates and infrastructure. In the fall, they also check catch basins to ensure they're not covered with leaves.

He said clearing the drain is the homeowner's responsibility and if they had been cleared, there wouldn't have been any issues.

Water damage inside Langille's car. (Submitted by Michelle Langille)

"But since these were blocked, the water in the hole continued to rise and flood the property," MacKenzie said.

Langille disputes the drains are on her property and that it's her responsibility to keep them cleared.

She said it's also possible the drains become blocked with sticks and other debris being pulled toward it as they drained.

Unpredictable weather

MacKenzie said the town could consider purchasing Langille's property.

He said with climate change, freak storm events are only going to happen more and more.

"I wasn't working [Canada Day] weekend, but I understand from everybody I talked to there was no real good forecast of this rain event," MacKenzie said.

The water mark here shows how high the flood waters were on Langille's property. (Submitted by Michelle Langille)

The cost of the damage is not yet known because Langille is still waiting on an estimate. But she said she will need a new washer and dryer, plus replacements for the soaked furniture that's been sitting in the house since the incident.

Langille works with the VON and some of her equipment was also damaged in the flood.

She said she doesn't have house insurance because she was in a car accident last year, which raised her car insurance premium. She said she couldn't afford both types of insurance, but she needs the vehicle for her VON job.

Community support

Langille has been staying with her daughter since the flood.

People in the community have also been helping out. The local Toyota dealership loaned her a car to use over the weekend and a GoFundMe page was set up to help her.

Langille is scheduled to speak at a meeting at town hall on July 15 to state her case.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.