Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac flood victims get a dose of Christmas spirit

For many, Dec. 1 signals that it's time to break out their holiday decorations and spread some Christmas cheer.But in Sainte-Marthe-Sur-le-Lac, victims of last spring's flooding lost basements full of supplies, from precious mementos to plastic reindeer and tree toppers.That's why a team of volunteers have come together with Christmas decorations to donate to those affected.Organizers call the initiative Operation Christmas Magic.Nancy Chevanelle volunteered at Sunday's event to "help out people that are in distress, that want to find a little bit of magic over the holidays."Her 70-year-old mother had only lived in Sainte-Marthe-Sur-le-Lac for two years, but lost her home and her car when the waters came rushing in.Chevanelle said her mother's house was in one of the worst affected areas, sitting in six feet of water for about 10 days."Everybody's in distress, I mean, there was 6,000 residents that have been hit by this … their lives have been turned upside down. So I think that we have an amazing community — if it wasn't for the community, I don't think these people would still be here," she said.Another flood victim, Benoit Pruneau, brought his two children to the event to spark a little holiday spirit and get ready for the festive season."It was a time for our children to get back a little smile before Christmas," he said, adding that his kids even got the chance to meet Santa Claus and take a photo with him.He said considering his family lost everything in their basement, this was a "special" way for the community to come together."The day after the flood, it was important to start to live again, and we can say it's part of the tradition to celebrate Christmas."During the event, organizers collected more donations than they could give away.They will be donating any surplus decorations to other flood victims throughout the province and to charities.

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