Île Bizard, Île Mercier residents criticize West Island borough's sandbag distribution

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Île Mercier residents could be forced to leave, says Denis Coderre

The mayor of L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève is admitting the borough made a "mistake" when it picked up residents' sandbags days before the waters started to rise a second time. 

Parts of Île Bizard and Île Mercier flooded Tuesday night. Île Mercier, located north of Pierrefonds, was submerged in water.

Île Mercier resident Pierre-Luc Cauchon has lived there for 30 years. A father of four kids, his home wasn't affected by the first wave of flooding, but he planned on keeping the sandbags he received two weeks ago.

On Monday, the city came and picked them up, he said. When he called to ask for them back, he said he was told city workers wouldn't be able to cross the bridge to deliver them.

A day later, the water rose again. His basement is now flooded.

"I think [the borough] should have been more proactive than reactive," he said.

Borough Mayor Normand Marinacci said some residents asked for their bags to be picked up, so the borough retrieved most of them.

The bags were not destroyed; they were brought back to a public works building. But Marinacci said it was a "mistake" to pick them up, and it would have saved time if they had been left where they were.

He said the borough has special trucks that are able to go through the water, so the bags were eventually delivered to those who requested them.

However, he said firefighters have now determined that most homes on the island won't benefit from the use of sandbags, so they are now only being delivered to the few residences they think can be spared.

More sandbag issues

James Butt lives in a trailer on Île Bizard. His trailer is on blocks, but the water has risen so high that it's starting to seep in under his door.

Butt said in his neighbourhood, city workers dropped off sand and bags, expecting the residents to fill the bags themselves.

That's an arduous task for older people, and everyone in his area is over the age of 60, he said, so he asked the borough to bring pre-made bags. Butt said they dropped off just over 50 bags, but that wasn't enough.

"They should have got on top of this a lot earlier. They should have forecast this, they should have known it was coming," he said.

Marinacci said in most cases, residents are getting pre-made bags. The borough is enlisting local volunteers to assemble them, and it's bringing in them in from places as far away as Quebec City.

But he conceded it has been a challenge to keep up with the demand.

"Everybody is asking for those bags, so of course it's not easy to provide the numbers they want, but I think generally it's [going] pretty well," he said.