Flood victims receive a lot of support
By David Willberg
1) Residents of Gainsborough enjoyed a barbecued lunch on July 4 through the United Way Estevan and Newalta. (Photo submitted)
2) Gainsborough food coordinator Sandra Hish and United Way Estevan marketing and administration manager Laura Bjarnason. (Photo submitted)
3) Water has been an issue on many roads, causing many highways and grid roads to close. (Photo submitted)
Carnduff Mayor Ross Apperley is marvelling at the generosity of southeast Saskatchewan residents.
The town was one of many in the southeast corner that was inundated with torrential rains in late June. Carnduff received about seven inches of rain, and was forced to declare a state of emergency.
But neighbouring communities were hit harder.
Carievale was isolated for several days because the highways leading in and out of the village were closed. Storthoaks and Alida also suffered from flooding. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for Gainsborough due to all the water in the community.
Most of the evacuated Gainsborough residents turned to Carnduff for lodging. A lot of people from Gainsborough parked their campers in the town.
“Normally we don't allow campers to camp on the street, but we opened all access, wherever we could accommodate them, or wherever they felt the need where they could put a camper, we allowed it,” said Apperley.
Others are staying in the town's campgrounds. Carnduff's hotels and motels offered cheap accommodations for flood victims. There were also a lot of residents who took in evacuated people, even for just one evening.
Apperley referred to the various communities in the southeast corner of the province – Gainsborough, Carievale, Carnduff, Alida and others – as a “neighbourhood.”
“If it was Carnduff flooding, I know the Gainsborough, Storthoaks, Carievale and Alida people would do the same for us,” said Apperley. “We don't think we're doing anything over and above … we're doing what we have to do to help.”
People in other communities have also been very generous, Apperley said.
He noted that at the evacuation centre at the Carnduff Education Complex, they received so much food that they couldn't handle any more. So evacuation centre workers encouraged people to donate money instead of food, and then the evacuation centre workers set up accounts at grocery stores, and purchased food for evacuees.
A small grocery store was then set up at the evacuation centre.
“You could come and help yourself,” said Apperley. “If your cat needed cat food for three days, you could take three baggies of cat food. You could take dog food, toilet paper, you name it, free of charge.”
Carnduff happened to be the collecting site for the food and the other donations, but other communities showed their support, he said. People drove from Alameda to Carnduff, and offered manpower and food. Other communities and businesses did the same.
Apperley said it's always nice to know that people are willing to help others in need.
Oilfield company Newalta and the United Way Estevan teamed up on July 4 to show their support for Gainsborough residents.
United Way Estevan marketing and administration manager Laura Bjarnason said that she and her partner, Newalta employee Chris LaFonte, and her two children served a barbecue lunch to about 150 Gainsborough residents. The food was donated by businesses in the Estevan area.
She said they spent about 3 1/2 hours cooking for the residents. People ate during a break from the flood clean-up efforts.
“When everybody was taking that break, they were still pretty positive,” said Bjarnason. “Everybody was laughing and joking, and there's not much else you can do in that type of situation.”
The United Way and Newalta were quite happy to do what they could to help the people of Gainsborough, she said.
Bjarnason understands from experience the ordeal associated with flooding. She said a sewer back-up cost her two-thirds of her former home in Stoughton during the floods of 2011.
“They (Gainsborough residents) are really overwhelmed with feelings,” Bjarnason said, her voice cracking with emotion. “There were people who were quite upset while talking about it. Older people who never thought they would have to go through this, are pulling carpet out of their house.”
Bjarnason said she hopes that they can return to Gainsborough for another barbecue in the future.
Redvers mayor Brian Dangstorp said that the support demonstrated in the last couple weeks is part of living in a small community.
“You'll see a lot of people helping out a lot of people,” said Dangstorp. “It's nothing to see four or five vehicles at somebody's house, helping them. And I've had lots of people phone me and ask me if anybody needs help.”
The fire department has also provided a lot of assistance.
Dangstorp has witnessed support for people in other communities, too. Bellegarde was hit pretty hard, he said, but people from Cromer, Manitoba, travelled to Bellegarde to offer assistance.
Those who want to make a donation to the flood relief efforts have multiple options.
The Salvation Army Disaster Services in Estevan, and elsewhere in the province, has been shipping fresh drinking water to the communities of Carnduff, Carievale and Gainsborough, Lieutenant Brian Bobolo said in a press release.
They are monitoring conditions in these and other communities closely, and are working with local community officials to provide needed assistance to those impacted by the flood.
Anyone wishing further information about offering assistance or making a financial donation to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts is asked to call the Estevan Salvation Army.
The Canadian Red Cross has opened a recovery and information line to help Saskatchewan residents. All calls remain confidential, and will be returned by a Red Cross worker.
Recovery assistance may include housing, food, transportation, household repair and clean-up materials, as well as assistance for getting back to work and replacing essential personal items. Canadian Red Cross caseworkers will work with individuals and families to identify needs and available resources.
The Canadian Red Cross says it relies on the generosity of Canadians and corporations to support families impacted by disaster. The assistance provided by Red Cross is designed to ensure that essential needs are met and families receive the support they need to recover from disaster.