The sirens, the rushing water and the flooded streets were a shock.
But it wasn’t until Sunday morning, when Valérie Deslauriers returned home and paddled into her living room in a kayak, that she fully understood the gravity of the situation.
“I wasn’t really believing it,” she told CBC News.
“It’s the kind of situation that you think, ‘This cannot happen to me; this will happen in the movies or to someone else.'”
Deslauriers, who has two young children, is among the thousands who were suddenly forced from their homes when a dike burst Saturday evening in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que., just northwest of Montreal on the Lake of Two Mountains.
A video of the trip, in which she breaks down in tears, has been viewed more than 430,000 times on Facebook.
Watch Deslauriers visit her home in a kayak:
“We worked very hard to have enough money to buy that house. It was a dream house,” Deslauriers said.
“A lot of people saw my video, and they were touched and offered me money and offered me a lot of things. But we are lucky. We are young. We are well-surrounded. We have friends and family to help us, but a lot of people don’t have that chance.”
The breached dike left roughly a third of the town under water, flooding homes and cars a half-kilometre inland.
Deslauriers stressed that she never expected her home to flood.
“It’s not a flood area. I wasn’t supposed to live in this situation, and yet here I am, kayaking in my house, with three feet of water in my living room,” she said.
It’s too soon to say whether the home she bought with her partner can be repaired.
“As long as the water will be up like that, we really have no clue if it’s lost or if we need to rebuild completely,” she said.