Ottawa

Residents in Quyon struggle to cope with rising water levels and no ferry

Rising flood waters have forced the ferry service in Quyon, Que. to shut down — and like many communities in the Ottawa Valley, the village is struggling to cope with the unrelenting deluge of water.

Ferry service was shut down Saturday as the Ottawa River continued to rise

Ferry service in Quyon Que. was shut down Saturday night after water levels made travel unsafe. (CBC News)

Rising flood waters have forced the ferry service in Quyon, Que. to shut down — and like many communities in the region, the village is struggling to cope with the unrelenting deluge of water.

"There's nothing worse than water. It doesn't matter what you do, you can't stop it. If there's a way to get around the sand pile, it will," said Don McColgan.

McColgan has lived in the village in the regional municipality of Pontiac for more than 50 years. He owns and operates the ferry service, which employees 11 people, and shuttles mostly Quebeckers to work in Ontario.

"On the weekend you get cottagers," said McColgan. "A lot of them are going up now to check and see if they're able to get to their cottage and if it's been flooded out or anything."

Don McColgan owns and operates the ferry in Quyon, Que. He says he was forced to shut down service after water levels got too high. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

McColgan said that unlike other ferry services in the region, the Quyon ferry's eight-metre drawbridge allowed his vessels to continue running as water levels steadily rose.

That all changed Saturday night, however, when the waters got too high for the ferry to operate safely. But McColgon said he's hoping to have things up and running again by mid-week.

"If not Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. It just depends on whether [the water] recedes. The forecast is that it's supposed to crest on Tuesday, so we're hoping Wednesday [or] Thursday at the latest."

McColgan said living on a hill has prevented his home getting flooded, but others in the village living near water haven't been so lucky.

"You work all your life to get a house, and all of a sudden it's ruined. It's pretty heartbreaking," he said.

'The neighbourhood is really in distress'

Shirley McMurray has lived in Quyon for seven years. She's also situated on a small hill and has been able to avoid having her home damaged by water.

But she said her neighbours have had a much harder time.

Quyon resident Shirley McMurray says the water near her home is usually about 30 metres away. It's now come up to the grass in her backyard. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

"The neighbourhood is really in distress," she said. "Yesterday, for example, we invited people who were evacuated and they could not come to supper because they were crying too much."

"I think that your property, your house, is your security, your heart ... the anchor of your life," she said.

The water's edge is normally located about 30 metres away from McMurray's home, but it's now come right up to the grass in her backyard. She said while she's relatively certain she will not affected by flooding in the immediate future, she will be forced to leave if the electricity in her neighbourhood is cut off.

"We will have to leave, because everything works with electricity. The pumps for the well, for example. The septic tank."

'The water is too high'

Raymond Wilfred Bertrand and his wife Florence Kearney were forced out of their home of 19 years on Chemin de la Pointe-Indienne after the street flooded. 

Raymond Bertrand and his wife Florence Kearney were forced to leave their home on Chemin de la Pointe-Indienne after it was flooded. They are now staying at a motel in Quyon. (CBC News)

Bertrand said the home has a retaining wall along the water — about 40 metres long and more than a metre high — but the rising waters eventually breached it. 

By the time the water reached his home and his two sheds, it was too late to use sandbags. "If we could look ahead and see into the future, yes, we could've moved a lot of stuff out," he said.

I'm going to be 79 in August, and you can't start over again unless you win the lottery.- Raymond Wilfred Bertrand 

"We can't get to our home," added Kearney. "The water is too high."

Bertrand and Kearney — who are both in their 70s — are now staying in a motel in the village until the water in their home recedes and they can return to assess the damage.

Although he's been paying into his insurance policy for years, Bertrand said flooding damage is not recognized by his insurers.

"Insurance don't cover this. We lose it all," he said. "I'm going to be 79 in August, and you can't start over again unless you win the lottery. And that's a few million chances away."

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