The main park near where the ferry lands in Quyon, Que., is completely under water.
Julie Oliver / Postmedia
QUYON, QUE. — In Quyon, Quebec, the Casse Croute du Village is now a waterfront restaurant — and the unofficial gathering place for what promises to be a long and nervous vigil.The red chip wagon is normally five blocks from the Ottawa River and the town’s ferry terminal. But unprecedented floodwaters from both the Ottawa and Quyon rivers have combined to inundate a municipal park on the east side of town: That water — more than a metre deep in places — is now being held back by a sand berm, and a second, hastily built one made of crushed stone.The two berms line the full length of Ferry Road and occupy the entire roadway leading to the now closed ferry terminal.“Everything is critical right now: It all depends on this bank here,” said Kevin Martineau, 41, one of those keeping vigil at the Casse Croute du Village on Tuesday.
Large trucks and equipment add rocks to the wall of sand in Quyon, Que., amidst evacuated houses in the area as police kept everyone out of the affected flood zone.
Julie Oliver /
Public works officials with heavy equipment completed the shoulder-high, gravel berm at 4 a.m. Tuesday.“If the berm goes, we will have to evacuate the entire village,” warned Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie in an interview.The town’s pumping station, she said Tuesday, is in a low-lying section of town and would have to be closed if the berm fails. It would mean, the mayor said, that the town could not operate its water or sewer system. All 500 residents would have to leave.More than 90 people, including those in the town’s seniors’ residence, were evacuated Monday when it appeared the sand berm was in danger of collapsing. Some returned home with the completion of the gravel berm. All eyes were on it Tuesday: “There’s still water seeping under it,” Martineau said, “and I have water running down my lane.”Martineau and his wife were evacuated at 11 a.m. Monday. They were told they had 15 minutes to get out of their Ferry Road home.“They said we could be under three feet of water in a big hurry,” said Martineau, who has two pumps working steadily to combat the water now seeping up through the floor of his basement. “The water just has nowhere else to go,” he said.
A wall of sand and rocks stands between Quyon and the river. Homeowners in the immediate area were evacuated Monday. Some returned Tuesday.
Julie Oliver /
Aware that the same neighbourhood flooded heavily in May 2017, local authorities built a sand berm along Ferry Road two weeks ago as a protective measure. But the berm couldn’t stand up to the floodwaters, and a second, more robust berm was built immediately behind it.Mayor Labadie said the new gravel berm will be reinforced with large cement blocks. “We just can’t afford to lose the berm,” she said.Floodwaters are expected to peak this week at historic levels and remain at or near those levels for two weeks. “If the village is underwater for two weeks,” she said, “can you imagine the impact that will have on our water and sewer system, our infrastructure and our roads?”The town’s brand new, $1.6 million community centre — it has yet to be officially opened — is now an island ringed by sandbags. A causeway built to the centre so it could be sandbagged is now completely submerged.In the 2017 flood, the old community centre remained high and dry on the same spot. When the new one was built, Labadie said, the town decided to raise it an additional 45 cm just to be certain that it wouldn’t experience flood problems.“Every authority and engineer who looked at it said it would not be at risk,” she said, “so there was no reason to believe it would be in trouble this time. So right up until the day before we put the sandbags in, our specialists were saying there was no way the water would get to it.“The water hasn’t gotten to it yet, but it’s awfully close.”Audrey Fraser’s home faces the Ottawa River in Quyon. She abandoned the place on Friday, but her husband has stayed behind to man six pumps working in the basement. The water is now within arm’s reach of the main floor, she said.“I called my husband this morning, and he said, ‘Audrey, I’m going to have a heart attack,’” she said.They’ve been in their waterfront home for 16 years, Fraser said, and have enjoyed the view, but they’re worried about ever being able to sell. “Who’s going to buy it?” she asked.At Quyon’s sandbag station, volunteer Kerry-Lynn Campbell said she can’t help but be worried about what the next few days will bring with heavy rain in the forecast. “I think everyone’s worried about which way this is going,” said Campbell, a lifelong Quyon resident. “It’s a low-lying area so who knows what can happen?”The Quyon Ferry closed Monday. The car ramp is underwater and the ferry itself is moored in the river, reachable only by boat.ALSO IN THE NEWS: COMPLETE FLOOD COVERAGESenators respond to Simpsons’ jab in Canadian fashionViola Desmond $10 bill voted world’s best bank note