‘I couldn’t see where I was:’ Payouts on the way for motorists stranded in 2017 Quebec blizzard

Motorists who got stuck on Montreal’s Highway 13 in 2017 expect to receive their settlement payment soon, nearly four years after a massive blizzard swept over Quebec, immobilizing traffic and leaving many stranded.

Djemira Maya de Pagter remembers that night well. She was on her way home to Lachine after a day at work.

At first, she tried to take the backroads. But visibility was so bad, she said she had to pull over repeatedly to clear the snow off her frozen wipers.

She got on Highway 13 at around 7 p.m. on the night of March 14, 2017. By 9 p.m., traffic was at a standstill. By 11 p.m., she was stuck.

She said she didn’t get moving again until 11 hours later.

“I ate almonds and a lollipop for supper,” said Pagter.

“I couldn’t see where I was,” she added. “I knew that if I turned my car off, the battery would die because it was so cold.”

Last year, the Superior Court of Quebec signed off on a settlement in a class action lawsuit launched to compensate drivers.

People who were caught in the storm are eligible to receive between $350 to $1,375, depending on thier experience.

All these years later, de Pagter said she’s received a letter from the province confirming her money is on the way. However, she doesn’t know exactly how much she’ll receive in damages, or exactly when she’ll receive it.

Whatever the amount, de Pagter said it feels like closure and she hopes people will recieve their money before Christmas.

“Especially for people who lost their jobs because of COVID, this could really help.”

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