Thursday 19 July 2012

Our share of Apocalypse

I mentioned it not long ago, I blogged about it already this evening. Today is the 16th anniversary of the Saguenay Flood. it made my region's history like 9/11 made this century, it was the event of my generation in my home. It has been on my mind a lot today, so I decided to blog about it. Twice instead of one. For a dispassionate account, please check this link. You can also see some dramatic images on YouTube.

First things first, a disclaimer: I did not lose my home, no loved one died. I saw the flood mostly through the television screen and mostly dry. The day before, I had gone back from the video club absolutely soaked, my mum and I had a good laugh about it. It hadn't stop pouring outside. I was considering going out that night, but because it couldn't stop raining I had decided against it. The next morning, we had learned that the water had gone over the dams. And we saw on the television images like the one I uploaded here. Familiar places that were drowned, houses that were carried away by landslide and dirty water, streams and small rivers turning into furious torrents. I was lucky enough: Chicoutimi was built on steep hills and valleys, the family house was on top of a hill. So we remained safe. We didn't have running water for a bit, we didn't have drinkable water for longer (in theater it is called a dramatic irony), but overall we were okay.

We learned only later how close we were to an even worse disaster. Our neighbour was a fireman and worked non stop over that period of time. He told us later that the water purification plant could have been taken away by the flood. Had it happened, the whole city would have been evacuated, if not the whole region. It was a traumatic event for all of us. I had spent my whole childhood and teenage in Chicoutimi, I had never left it to live somewhere else yet, I was pretty much a home boy, a Blueberry through and through. The next autumn, I was going for the first time to live in Montreal, to start my first year at university. For the first time I was going to be an expatriate. I never felt so much of a guy from Saguenay that first year in Montreal: my accent was giving me away, then people were asking me about the Flood.

I gave a nickname to the event: "our share of Apocalypse". I guess I was feeling poetic. I thought it would make for a great title for a novel. For now, it will be good enough for a blog post.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

omg...i have to tell the blog tech about this! he is the biggest lovecraft fan ever! he has read every single book ten times and has them all memorized. you should talk to him! we also have the entire original set of the equinox!

Anonymous said...

et 2 ans plus tard le grand verglas

PJ said...

Seul Chicoutimi aurait été évacué en cas de perte de l'usine de filtration d'eau (même Chicoutimi-Nord a son propre approvisionnement) mais s'aurait été un énorme problème quand même (le défunt maire Ulric Blackburn, en entrevue à la télé communautaire, avait dit "on aurait pas d'eau pour l'hiver", étant donné les circonstances, la reconstruction aurait sûrement été plus rapide que ça mais quand même, ça donne une idée).

Anyway, tu étais à Montréal pendant la reconstruction, moi j'étais au cégep encore, et j'ai jamais vu des travaux routiers effectués aussi rapidement. Dix ans plus tard, en voyant les effets de Katrina aux États-Unis, j'anticipais ce genre de coordination logistique, et je fus fort déçu quand ce ne fut pas le cas. On dira ce qu'on voudra contre nos différents palliers de gouvernement, mais en temps de crise, avec le Déluge, tout le monde a mis la main à la pâte de manière remarquable. Les inondations l'an dernier sur le Richelieu ont été une toute autre histoire de ce côté, et un fiasco lamentable.

Anonymous said...

That house surrounded by all that water is breathtaking. I am sure that so many years on the event still provides painful reminders to those who lost their homes or loved ones.

Cynthia said...

Ce désastre par son ampleur m'a toujours paru irréel. Je me souviendrais toujours des images à la TV pendant cette période!

Guillaume said...

@Jaz-Lovecraft is always a great read. I hope you read the post i wrote on Friday.
@Anonymous 1-Le verglas c'est une autre catastrophe surréaliste. J'ai pris des photos pour immortaliser.
@PJ-Ca a été une catastrophe, mais ça aurait pu être mille fois pire. On a comme été plongé dans une autre époque.
@Anonymous 2-The house was called "la petite maison blanche" (the little white house) and is still standing today. It survived the flood and became a symbol of the region's resilience.
@Cynthia-Je l'ai surtout vu de la télévision, en fait.