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Flood watch: A nonstop fight for exhausted Rigaud, Hudson residents

The lower end of Rigaud’s Armel St. was deserted and submerged in water early Monday when 81-year-old Jean-Maurice Latreille could be seen leaving his house in the distance.

Hip-deep in water, Latreille walked slowly toward dry land, using a long stick to look for holes or debris hidden below the surface and a set of ski poles to keep his balance.

“The water went up three inches last night,” he said after reaching his truck, parked on higher ground. “If it continues like this, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Latreille, like most of his neighbours on streets near the Ottawa River in Rigaud, left his home for a hotel on Saturday after watching the water climb 10 inches overnight.

Last Friday, as friends and family helped him install 60 sandbags on his front lawn, he could still see the grass around his house. On Monday, you couldn’t see the wall of sandbags anymore.

People are given a ride in a backhoe as they make their way home along a flooded street in Rigaud on Monday, May 8, 2017.

Admittedly tired, he has been returning to his home four times a day to check on the pumps he installed — two are working to keep his basement dry, a third one is ready if the water keeps climbing.

“The pumps are emptying it as it goes, but there are about three inches left until the water reaches my basement windows,” he said between long breaths. “It should hold as is, but if the waves keep intensifying, I know my windows will give in.”

In Hudson, residents were banding together to help those who live along a section of Main St. that had been overtaken by the water.

“We’re still winning the fight,” said Marie Logan, whose house was surrounded by water early Monday morning. “But we’re an island now.”

Logan and her husband had watched the water creep up their backyard for the last week but held out hope that it would recede before reaching the house. The flooding started Thursday.

“There’s been hardly any rain, but it just keeps getting higher and higher,” she said. “It doesn’t stop.”

Chris Amerides makes his way home along the Rigaud River on Monday, May 8, 2017.

They installed sandbags in the front of the house first because a deck attached to its side usually blocks access to their backyard, but when the water got too high, they were left with no choice but to rip out the deck to get sandbags to the back.

It has been a nonstop fight, Logan said.

They boarded up their basement windows, but one still smashed under the pressure of the water. The others were leaking heavily Monday morning.

Family and friends have been taking turns overseeing the eight pumps keeping the water from climbing in their basement, which they had just finished renovating two weeks ago.

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“We haven’t slept. We can’t stop monitoring the pumps, we can’t stop,” she said. “I’m tired. But we’re still winning right now and we don’t want to leave.”

No residents along Main St. could remember the water ever reaching these heights.

June Penney, a few doors down from Logan’s house, said the worst she had previously seen was in 1998 when water crept up to a tree in her front lawn. There was three feet of water lapping against the side of her house on Monday.

“And now I’m seeing all those logs floating out there,” she said as she looked out at her now-submerged backyard. “We need to go remove them. If the waves come, they’ll bash into the wall.”

jfeith@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jessefeith

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http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/flood-watch-a-nonstop-fight-for-exhausted-rigaud-hudson-residents