The victims of La Baie in Saguenay are reeling between hope and fear after evacuating their homes a few days ago due to the risk of landslides.
“I hope it doesn’t get more difficult because I find it difficult,” breathes Doris De La Durantaye, who met her in her son’s garden. Last Saturday, she and her husband Thierry Coup had to vacate the house in which they had lived for 28 years. “It’s a mystery to me,” said the 58-year-old, looking down at her hands. I have a working head but my heart is crying all the time. »
After being told to vacate the premises by 7am Sunday, the couple hastily packed up their most prized keepsakes and possessions. Relatives came to help him, says Mr. Coup. “My wife and I couldn’t think anymore,” says the 60-year-old. It was our friends and relatives who decided what to publish. »
In total, more than 190 people were evacuated from the La Baie sector in Saguenay. On June 13, a landslide swept away a house. Mr. Coup was in his kitchen at the time of the events, he says. Outside, he saw the wires move and heard a rumble. “I said to my wife: Doris, it’s falling, it’s falling! Then he waited. “But what are you waiting for? he asks. will you be taken away You have no idea. »
Since then, the couple has been on high alert, fearing another landslide. Suddenly in the middle of a conversation with The duty, in the distance a siren sounds. ” What is that ? says m.me De La Durantaye points to the sky with concern.
Thierry Coup and his wife want to keep hope. “But as the days go by, we realize we may not be able to go home,” murmurs Doris De La Durantaye. And the more it hurts. Though she says she’s aware it’s “material,” it represents “a lifetime’s struggles,” she clarifies.
Mr Coup wants the city to “hurry to rectify the situation”. On Monday, Saguenay Fire Department director and emergency response coordinator Carol Girard said she hopes to reduce the perimeter if necessary and allow certain residents to return to their homes. However, he did not want to “make any promises” and stressed that it may be necessary to expand the perimeter. Soil analysis work continued in La Baie on Tuesday aimed at understanding the causes of the landslide.
Efforts will continue so that “adequate housing is found for everyone by the end of the week,” said Saguenay City Communications Advisor Dominic Arseneau. Some evacuees are currently in their second home, at their campsite, in an apartment owned by the Municipal Housing Office, in an apartment owned by a private owner or in a hotel.
” It is too dangerous “
A few kilometers from the evacuated area, Jonathan Ouellette lives in one of the hostels that take in disaster victims. The 44-year-old says he has little hope of returning to the house he’s lived in since 2009: “We can’t go there, it’s too dangerous,” he says, looking into the distance. It is a race between “Mother Nature” and humans to stabilize the risk zone from another landslide, he explains, referring to Mayor Julie Dufour’s remarks from the previous day.
When he heard about the evacuation order last Saturday, Mr Ouellette quickly rolled up his sleeves. He grabbed his memories and important papers, then emptied his fridges and freezers, he says. But sometimes he had to stop. “The most difficult thing was when I sat down in my son’s room,” said the former soldier. He was born there. »
We must now look to the future, says Mr Ouellette. “We will create other memories,” he said, grinning.
“From 0 to 100”
Near the evacuation zone, in a parking lot, Jeff Mclean and his mother, Andrée Drolet, look at their house, which is inside the security zone. The wind blows in the trees around the evacuated houses.
From home mme Drolet says he “saw everything” about the June 13 landslide. She was with her 8-year-old granddaughter and 6-year-old grandson at the time. “We came out of the house and saw the dust package,” says the 62-year-old. “The children are very marked,” she breathes.
Jeff Mclean now says he’s “calm” as his children live with him with his in-laws. But last Saturday, “the intensity increased from 0 to 100,” says the 36-year-old, clinking a cigarette. “We were told: ‘You go, you take your things. However, he regrets not being able to collect some of his belongings on Sunday.
Mme Drolet also shares this opinion. “At my age, all my memories, everything I’ve accumulated, will all disappear. I didn’t take anything out. I took out two suitcases with clothes and my medication. “She has to “live from day to day”, launches the pensioner and stretches her arms to the sky.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister François Legault will be in La Baie to offer his help and support to the victims of the disaster.
On Monday, the state of emergency in Saguenay was extended by five days following the signing of the ministerial decree by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. In particular, this decree allows the municipality to award contracts without a call for tenders.
With the Canadian Press