MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – As of August 17, a help centre for Pontiac residents affected by the spring flooding was set up at the Luskville Library, every Thursday and Friday, to address the many needs, questions and concerns that are still lingering four months later. Although the centre is a Municipality of Pontiac initiative, residents of MRC Pontiac municipalities are also welcome. About forty people visited on August 17 alone.
Representatives of the Community Justice Centre, Red Cross, Housing Search Assistance (OMHG), legal aid offices, Ministry of Public Safety (Thursdays only), and the CISSSO are all on hand. The cost of offering the services is being covered by each organization.
According to Mayor Roger Larose, the municipality insisted on having the centre created to eliminate the need for residents to travel to Gatineau for information. Dominic Labrie, Pontiac Communications Officer, said the centre offers a one-stop service to help flood victims (emotionally and administratively) and offers additional support to homeowners receiving news that they are unable to rebuild.
“In the 0-20 year flood zone, if the cost of the [damages] is higher than 50% of the building’s value, residents are not allowed to rebuild in the same location. Victims have been getting individual reports from Public Safety with evaluations of the damages and are coming to the Town Hall to [confirm] the value of their properties; this is not the value on the tax account, it’s calculated by the MRC. They are now learning if they are allowed to rebuild or not,” explained Labrie, noting that as of August 18, four homes in the municipality were deemed unsuitable for a rebuild. However, most of Public Safety’s evaluations and reports are still incomplete.
The centre is open both days from 1 to 8 pm and provides information related to
damage statements and financial assistance from the Ministry of Public Safety (on Thursdays only); housing search assistance; access to psychosocial services and referral to health and social resources; and information on rights, available resources, and applications for the Red Cross’ financial assistance program.