CONSTANCE BAY -- It was a bittersweet day for Melissa Lepage and her family.

The family home on Bayview Drive in Constance Bay was torn down Thursday; more than a year and a half after it was damaged beyond repair in the 2019 flooding along the Ottawa River.

"I mean it is sad, but at the same time it is a little bit of a weight off my shoulders that at least this part is getting done," says Lepage, her eyes red from tears after watching her family’s home be demolished. "So now we can move on to the next."

It’s been an incredibly tough time for the Lepage family since they were forced out of their home in April 2019. They have not had a home to call their own since, bouncing from one temporary location to another, all while Lepage’s husband has been battling dementia.

"It’s our home," says Lepage, tears welling up again. "These are our family and friends that I are here."

"This is a good stepping stone to where we need to be," says Lepage’s son Nick, who was there to watch the final wall holding their old fireplace come down. "It just shows progress and you have to start somewhere to reach the end."

In West Carleton, that somewhere starts with Greg Patacairk, who is leading the community charge to rebuild the family’s home.

"My goal is to see a house build on this particular property and I’d like to see it start by the spring," says Patacairk, who works with West Carleton Disaster Relief, but is working with the Lepage’s on his own time.

Despite the support from the community and the $30,000 that has been raised online through a GoFundMe campaign, Patacairk says they are still about $70,000 short of what they need to start building the home. 

He adds donations don’t have to come in cash form.

"When you’re having a house built you need tubs, toilets, countertops, sinks, light fixtures, flooring, all of those things. If there’s contractors out there, if those contractors are willing to come in and do plumbing for example. We need skilled trades," said Patacairk.

Lepage’s son Nick, who also works building homes, grateful for everything Patacairk has put in, "Greg’s come a long way with things and he’s helped out a ton. A lot more than I could picture anyone else doing for just a small family like us."

Patacairk says growing up, he knew what it was like to have the world pushing down on you, fuelling his ambition to help the family get back into their home. He adds it will be a community effort to build the home.

"I know that in the society we live in, we can get them a new house,” says Patacairk. “It can happen. It will happen."