The landslide that completely destroyed a home in the La Baie sector of Saguenay on Monday evening was a sad déjà vu for many residents who witnessed the 1996 flood. Rainfall is expected in the coming days.
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It’s as if Mother Nature wanted to give the residents of La Baie a sad reminder of their strength just before 8pm on Monday evening, nearly 26 years after the deadly landslide that killed two children in July 1996
Serge Carrier was listening to TV quietly in the basement of his apartment building when everything started to shake and a deafening noise took over the house. He quickly understood what was going on.
“It was as if a dozen large ten-wheelers were climbing the hill, it was shaking,” says the man, who barely escaped with his wife. If the city hadn’t built a concrete block wall to support his neighbor’s house upstairs, his apartment would have been destroyed as well.
“We went with it, it’s not complicated. We went through it,” thinks Mr. Carrier, still in shock the day after the disaster.
A flood victim makes all the difference
And that famous wall that probably saved lives Monday night was the Pierre-Michel Poulin company that built it at the request of the city. The last few hours have brought very bad memories to the surface for the man who lost the family business which was completely destroyed by the July 1996 Deluge floods.
From Monday morning he had the premonition that disaster was about to strike, he who was already there.
“When I saw the rain in the morning, I told my wife that something was going to happen. It was the same rain as the deluge,” says the man who surveyed the extent of the damage on Tuesday at the end of the day.
“I totally understand what these people are going through. You have lost everything. It’s like the rest of us,” the man sighs.
The father of the owner of the destroyed house confided that his son is going through very difficult times.
“It bothers us a lot, we invest a lot of time into it. It’s been four years since my son bought it and we had it completely renovated, we had completely redesigned the interior. A garage converted…” explains Carl Brisson, adding that the small family of five somehow escaped it. “If the five children had been there, it would have been done. Nobody would have gotten out of there,” the man recalls, touched.
Residents of dwellings evacuated at the top of the embankment are also still in limbo as their houses perch dangerously on the brink of the precipice.
Camil Gilbert spent his youth in the house that was pulverized. He could hardly believe the sad scene he had before his eyes on Tuesday.
Photo Pierre Paul Biron
Camil Gilbert grew up in the destroyed house.
“It’s a lot of memories for me. My father built the house,” he emphasized, adding that the result surprised even him when the first crack appeared thirty years ago.
“My father had been evacuated for two or three weeks during the work. […] And there we said to each other again that it was a small crack, but when I saw what happened, ”he adds, struggling to complete his sentence.
Behind him, in the rubble, personal effects and furniture show that the residence was actually inhabited before the city evacuated it as a precaution a few weeks ago. It was clear to all the people who gathered on Tuesday that the region had just avoided another tragedy.
– In collaboration with TVA Nouvelles
victims in shock and insecurity
The victims of the 24 houses evacuated after the landslide were able to salvage personal belongings last night accompanied by the fire brigade. For a small number of them it was perhaps a sad farewell to their homeland as uncertainty hangs over two or three houses.
“We’re sad, it’s difficult,” said a resident of the Avenue du Parc roundabout, which sits at the top of the huge ravine left by the landslide. “This may be the last time we set foot inside,” she whispered to a friend who came to help her and her husband recover essential supplies, some souvenirs and some food.
When looking at the resulting cliff, it quickly becomes clear that the couple and the two neighboring houses only narrowly escaped the landslide that mowed down a house further down.
The owner of one of these houses, according to her neighbors, was on her patio when the ground gave way. The same terrace now partially hangs in the void.
“She, she narrowly escaped,” confided a local resident, adding that the lady panicked in the moments following what could have turned into a tragedy.
The weather over the next few days will be crucial for those fearing the worst. Environment Canada is forecasting showers tomorrow and Friday for the Saguenay region, which has already received astronomical amounts of rain since early June.
According to the latest data, the region received 144 millimeters of rain in 13 days, while the monthly average is usually around 90 millimeters.
Authorities warn that work should be carried out today to ensure the strength of the concrete wall currently supporting the collapsed house, as well as the large amount of soil that has accumulated at the base of the embankment.
“We will have to carry out several analyses. We will be doing some drilling to see the extent of the damage and to assess what can be done,” said Saguenay Fire Brigade Chief of Operations Sylvain Bouchard in the evening, adding that a dozen other sites were “under observation”. in the city and that further evacuations could follow.
Also in Saint-Fulgence, three houses were evacuated because of the risk of landslides.