plays out in the
Battle for Leo Lane
covering major floods on Mississippi Lake in 1998 and
Lac St. Jean in 1996, you would you think I would have
a better appreciation of the powerful force of nature
that is a swollen river.
witnessed the flooding along the Ottawa River this past
week and seen how its turned a little piece of waterfront
heaven on Leo Lane near Cumberland Village into a living
nightmare, I do now.
also have a great deal of empathy for those same residents
who had waged a five-day battle against Mother Nature
before the inevitable happened on Sunday and the sandbag
walls that had been protecting their homes gave way and
the rising water flooded their homes.
say it was heartbreaking is an understatement. My visceral
response was a byproduct of knowing how tirelessly they
worked to keep the water at bay.
Larrivéeand the other two home-owners who were
the last remaining hold-outs on Leo Lane, slept for only
two hours at a time for fear their gas-powered pumps would
run out of fuel. They had been doing this since last Tuesday
when heavy rains caused the Ottawa River to swell and
surround their properties.
the first 24 hours they were largely on their own, but
thanks to the power of social media reinforcements soon
arrived in the form of dozens of volunteers. Some came
from as far away as Plantagenet and Kanata.
came with their wives. Mothers with their children. Many
with shovels in their hands ready to take the back breaking
task of filling sandbags in the pouring rain that refused
to stop through Thursday, Friday and into Satur-day. Others
came with food, both for the residents and their fellow
say it was heartwarming is as big of an undertatement
as the heartbreak that was to follow.
swimming pool contractor had come from Rockland with his
front-end loader and made trip after trip from the area
where the sandbags wer being filled, to the homes where
they were used to shore up the breakwaters that had been
erected in the false hope that they would somehow be a
match for Mother Nature.
three days the residents were able to hold their own,
wrestling Mother Nature to a draw in the Battle for Leo
tide began to turn overnight on Friday when the pressure
of the water pushing against the sandbags caused several
breeches in the defences.
time an opening occured in the wall, Larrivée and
the others managed to plug it with more sandbags in between
refueling the pumps.
went on all night and into the morning when dozens of
additional volun-teers showed up to pick up where they
had left off the day before.
around 4 p.m., they got word that the power to the street
would be cut off for safety reasons and that it would
be in their own best interest to leave the homes they
had been fighting to save for more than three days.
they left after being assured by the Ottawa Fire Service
that they would continue to fight the Battle for Leo Lane
on their behalf.
one knows for sure when Mother Nature dealt her final
blow, but by 11 a.m. on Sunday the pumps had been shut
off and the homes abandoned after the sand-bags collapsed
and the firefighters could no longer keep the water at
afterwards, I toured the watery battlefield and assessed
the aftermath. Where once the drone of gas-powered pumps
filled the air and front-end loaders pushed their way
through the deluge, was total silence except for the sound
of waves lapping against the portions of the sandbag walls
that were still intact.
the time I got there the water had already inundated the
ground floor of all three homes. One can only image the
damage it will cause to the flooring, the drywall and
damage is rarely covered by home insurance, especially
is you live on a river thats prone to flooding its
banks every spring.
damage will be extensive and so will the debris that will
be left behind.
nothing that can be done in the Battle for Leo Lane now.
Mother Nature is the victor. But
after every battle, there is still work that needs to
hoping that the volunteers who turned out to help fill
the sandbags, will return 10 days or two weeks from now
to help clean up the mess so that something good can come
out of this devastating tragedy.
you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column
please write to Fred Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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