Posted on Friday May 3, 2019 at 9:54 a.m.
Cathy Williams didn't want to leave home...
If she could have had her way, Cathy Williams would have rather stayed in her home and waited for the Ottawa River to stop flooding.
"I want to stay," she said, inside the tiny front door foyer of her home at the end Montpetit Street in L’Orignal.
Outside the door, on the morning of the last Friday of April, the waters of the Ottawa River lapped against the bottom of her front steps, just below the edge of the lowest one. On the other side of the flooded road, sections of a private dock rose and fell in the river surf, bumping up against a tree.
The dock sections belong to a neighbour who later comes along with a small caterpillar tractor to rope the dock sections together and make them more secure against washing away in the flood water. Williams stands outside and watches for a bit before coming back in and sitting down on the stair-lift chair she uses to go up and down, between the main floor and the basement of her home.
Williams, 67, has lived at the end Montpetit Road for 35 years. She’s retired and has a medical disability that limits her mobility a bit. She can walk a bit but finds it better using a scooter for getting out and about. She has a trio of cats for company and is happy enough with her life.
"I really love them a lot," she said, referring to her cats. "They’re not going to be happy to leave."
She was one of many people forced out of their homes two years ago, when the Ottawa River flooded. She doesn’t like the idea of having to do it again.
"I am ready this year," she said. "I am more prepared."
Being prepared this time includes having an extra sump pump available in her basement, in case something goes wrong with the main one. After the 2017 flood waters went down, Williams also had stone wall barricade built around the river side of her house.
"I’m happy here, I’m safe," she said, adding that as long as the power stays on and she has food available, she is fine.
But Williams was still prepared in case she might have to leave her home again to get away from the river. Friday morning she had carriers set up for her trio of cats. If she has to go, she will. She just would rather stay.
Later that night heavy rain fell all over the Prescott-Russell region, raising the water level of the Ottawa River higher than ever before. The lower half of Montpetit Street flooded to the point where emergency service vehicles cannot get in.
L’Orignal fire fighters evacuated residents from three of the houses at the lower end of the street. Cathy Williams was one of the evacuees. Fire fighters had to use a front-end loader to drive through the flood water to get to her house.