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Preparing for the worst: Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on edge as waters rise

For two weeks now, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue has prepared for potential flooding. And on Thursday night it started, as water from the Lake of Two Mountains started creeping over its banks, flooding a parking lot.

The town set up pumps on the edge of the lot, and turned them on Thursday night. Though noisy, Mayor Paula Hawa says they will stay on until the water recedes.

“It’s sort of a vicious cycle, but it’s something you have to do to stop it from going up the manholes and onto the streets,” Hawa said.

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Hawa said the town learned a lot from the flooding situation it experienced two years ago, when waist-high water surged through the streets, flooding many homes.

“We’re as prepared as we can be. It’s not our first time; we went through this in 2017,” Hawa said. “So everything that has been done has been done.”

This time, the town started handing out pallets of sandbags to all vulnerable residences two weeks ago. It held information sessions, set up an emergency centre, and have crews working non-stop. They have a hotline available for residents to call if needed.

“Now we just sit and wait and we brace because we know for the next 36 hours we will make it or break it,” Hawa said.

The water coming from the lake is rising quickly. In one hour Friday morning, it rose six inches, and crews fear it’s only going to get worse.

“Right now it’s starting to be a bit scary and we can’t do nothing, because the water needs to go somewhere,” said Public Works employee Gabryelle Belanger.

Residents here consider themselves well-prepared for the worst, because 2017’s floods taught them what that is.

The home of Chauncey Fitzsimmons, who lives right by the lake, suffered terrible damage two years ago. She prepared hard this year, though, making a large sandbag wall protecting her basement.

“We have done all we can do. We are threatened by the front, we are threatened by the back,” she said.

A few doors down, Catherine Bichay runs a senior’s residence. She has 18 clients, and worries about potential evacuations.

“We are trying to avoid that this time, because when you have Alzheimer’s, this is very traumatic for them,” Bichay said.

And for the next two days, Bichay — like most in this town — will just wait, watch and hope the rain will stop.

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