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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Living in Garage Awaits Compensation

Six months after flood waters ravaged their home in the Richelieu Valley, Dominic Ouimette, his wife and their two children continue live in their garage – it's their best living option at the moment.

With a home too water-damaged to live in and too contaminated to renovate, the Ouimettes are just one of hundreds of families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by more than a month of flooding.

They continue to wait for compensation, and questioning whether they will have the opportunity to rebuild before the snow starts falling.

Pipes will soon freeze, forcing the Ouimettes out.

"It's just signing papers and papers and nothing ever moves, and when we contact civil security and there's never, never, never a follow-up," he said.

The Ouimettes are waiting for authorization to demolish their home and rebuild, but even if they receive that authorization, they still have no idea how much money they'll be entitled to receive.

It's a dilemma Gerard Dutil has heard before. As mayor of neighbouring Saint-Paul-de-l'île-aux-Noix, Dutil said the complaints keep filing in from those prevented from rebuilding because of bureaucratic delays.

"Some people do have the money; some people don't have the money and can't get a mortgage. Contractors won't work for somebody that can't prove that they can pay for it," he said.

Dutil said the town itself is also waiting to be refunded for the money it spent during the flooding and on the ensuing cleanup.

"We don't even know what they're going to pay or how they're going to pay and we can't get the information," he said.

Over the past six months about one third of a promised $18 million in provincial flood relief has been doled out.

Quebec Civil Service is not commenting, but has promised to speed up the process in the face of growing protest.

As for Ouimette, he said he can't comprehend the delay.

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone," he said. "It's really hard."

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