Seven weeks after Itsik Romano’s home was damaged by the floods that affected more than 5,000 residences in Quebec, he said many Pierrefonds-Roxboro residents are still not feeling any relief.
They are just as confused and riddled with anxiety as they were when the flooding first hit their homes in early May, Romano said. They feel abandoned by the city and the provincial government, who he said are moving slowly — and not together — to aid victims.
“We don’t have a sense of security anymore,” he said. “We don’t have any sense of belief in the city or in the government to handle this situation.”
That’s why he and his neighbours wore their hearts on their sleeves at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s free concert at Pierrefonds city hall Thursday night. As a graphic designer and web developer, Romano said he was inspired by his community’s collective frustration and decided to design T-shirts that would express just that.
The shirts, he explained, show a doctored version of the borough’s logo: shouts of “SOS!” coming from three seemingly submerged red rooftops with the words “négligence,” “abandonnés,” and “action” underneath. Negligence, Romano said, on the part of the city; abandonment by the government; action for the concrete help they’re waiting to receive.
“The situation is very grave in our community because the government is not providing what they promised,” he said. Today, for example, he received a phone call saying an analyst was being assigned to his file — which is the same thing he was told four weeks ago.
The idea for the benefit concert came from OSM musical director Kent Nagano.
“As musicians, we can’t rebuild homes, but we do hope this small gesture of solidarity and friendship towards Montrealers will contribute to the spirit of cooperation following the floods this spring,” Nagano said.
Hundreds of residents from five of the affected regions — Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Île-Bizard—Ste-Geneviève, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville — were offered VIP invitations to the free concert.
Romano made it clear that they were not protesting the concert itself. Rather, he said they wanted to take the opportunity to make their displeasure known, particularly given their proximity to city officials who were also present.
“There is no sense in protesting a concert that is being put together by the (OSM) free, for us, to feel our pain,” he said. “But the only thing we can do is increase the awareness of our situation.”