Ottawa

The boat that's feeding a flooded community's stomach — and its spirit

In Clarence-Rockland, Ont., Jean Lamoureux and his boat are making a big difference for residents living in the flood zone.

Jean Lamoureux has been ferrying meals to stranded Clarence-Rockland, Ont., residents

Jean Lamoureux takes his boat down Voisine Road, which has been consumed by the Ottawa River. (Jean Delisle/CBC)
In flood-ravaged Clarence-Rockland, Ont., Jean Lamoureux and his boat are making a big difference for people living in the flood zone.

Lamoureux has been delivering meals to residents on washed-out Voisine Road three times a day, using a boat he's dubbed the Voisine Express II.

Water levels are now receding in the area, but the road is still impassable except by watercraft.

"We're kind of a small tight community and it's just a human thing to do, help each other," Lamoureux said.

"It's much easier when you stand [together] than go by yourself."

Jean Lamoureux helped during the 2017 floods as well, calling it 'just a human thing to do.' (Jean Delisle/CBC)

'An angel'

Lamoureux has a cottage on Voisine Road, but said the majority of residents live there full-time.

He's been delivering food donated by the city's business community since Easter Monday.

Residents say the deliveries allow them to stay home and keep an around-the-clock eye on their water pumps. 

"He's an angel. We rely on people like Jean who are tirelessly devoted to serving this community in a time of crisis," resident Jack Fronius said.

Lamoureux checks in on neighbours earlier in April in the Voisine Express, his first boat. He had to retire the vessel when it started taking on water. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Helped in 2017 too

Lamoureux did the same thing during the 2017 flood, but at that time he was using an older boat called the Voisine Express.

This year, however, that boat started taking on water and Lamoureux had to buy a new one — hence the new name.

"He is making a difference. He's having fun, he's always smiling, joking around, he changes the atmosphere," said Frank Lalonde, who also lives on the road.

Some residents refer to Lamoureux as the glue keeping the community together.

As for Lamoureux, he said helping just feels natural.

"We're having fun. Even if we're in trouble, we still keep the spirit," he said. "I think the spirit is the most important thing when you go through bad luck."

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