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Patience wears thin for Quebec flood victims as 1-year mark nears

As floodwaters rose on May 5, 2017, Micheline Poirier and her husband were forced from their home on Île-Cadieux, where they had lived for almost four decades.

Eleven months later, the retired couple is still staying at a hotel, living out of a suitcase. They have to go to a friend's house to wash their clothes.

They are still awaiting to hear how much they will be compensated by the provincial government before deciding whether they can afford renovations on their old home, or whether they will have to sell.

"It takes too much time," Poirier, 76, told Radio-Canada. "We lost a year there because of the slowness of the procedure to follow in the papers with our file."

Poirier and her partner are not the only ones in such a situation.  

The Red Cross is still helping 77 families with accommodations. The organization says it provided emergency support to more than 2,400 households affected by last year's floods.

The 2017 spring floods forced thousands of people from their homes and caused severe property damage in several cities and towns.

The province has paid out more than $100 million in claims.

This is what Gouin Boulevard West in Pierrefonds looked like during flooding in 2017. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)The Vallées, a hard-hit family in Pointe-Fortune, not only lost their home, but also their business, a casse-croûte they have run for more than two decades.  

Line Vallée said the provincial government's response has been poorly communicated and disorganized. 

After months without answers from the province, she filed a complaint with the Quebec ombudsman out of frustration.

Vallée said she was surprised when someone called her back from the province's Public Security Ministry within a few hours.

"I don't know why they always leave people in the dark [without knowing] where they have gotten in their files," she said.

Emergency plans for flooding

Vallée also criticized the province for spending a significant amount of money to temporarily relocate flood victims.

"It would have been better to have more money for our houses rather than pay us for a hotel all this time," she said.

Without income for a year because of the loss of their restaurant, the couple is also having difficulty making ends meet.

Poirier, for her part, said she is losing hope that she will ever return home.The 2017 spring floods forced thousands of Quebecers to leave their homes. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"We do not want to start over. My husband is not going back to work at his age," she said.

Last month, the provincial government ordered each municipality in Quebec to come up with an emergency plan to respond to flooding.

Two-thirds of Quebec municipalities did not have up-to-date plans to respond to natural disasters, the province said.

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