I was prepared to write today's blog about our vacation. Somehow it just felt wrong to talk about our amazing vacation when my friends and neighbours are in crisis. This winter was a very tough winter. We had more snow than I can ever remember. It was cold and it was tough, and I breathed a sigh of relief when it finally began to melt. Unfortunately snow is frozen water, which means that when the warmth comes, the snow returns to it's watery form.
Almost every single year the water at our local park/ lake finds it's way up to the playground. Most years the little guys soccer is either rescheduled or relocated due to the soccer pitch being flooded. None of us think too much about it, it's just part of the spring thaw. This year has been different. Our community and communities around us have declared a state of emergency. Many of the local roads are posted with yellow "Flooded Road" signs. There are people being evacuated from their homes.
I wanted to do something to help, but I didn't know what I could do. I offered to share our home with good friends of ours, but what else could "I" do to help? Our municipality began making a plea for volunteers to help fill sandbags... I could do that. I think that I have shared this view before, but I'm going to share it again. I feel compelled to help others in crisis. It's not because I am so good, my sainthood is on a permanent hold. We have insurance for our home, incase something happens to our home. We have insurance on our car incase we have an accident. We have insurance on our very lives incase something terrible should happen. We pay hundred of dollars every year for "just in case". I think of helping my neighbours as insurance. If we all lend a hand when a community member needs it, then when it's our turn, and we need help, our community will rally around us. I assure you that the latter insurance is the cheapest premium of them all.
Thursday morning my friend Theresa emailed me and asked if I wanted to go and sandbag with her. This was something that I had been thinking about doing, and now I would have company. I put my gear on and headed over. I had decided before I went that I would give one hour of my time. I have chronic pain as a result of our car accident. I have to think ahead what I can physically do before hand so that I do not exacerbate my injuries. It is of no good to anyone for me to give my time to help others while killing and injuring myself.
When I arrived at the public works there was a school bus parked along the road. Local high school students had volunteered their time to help. As I looked around at all of the faces, majority of them were Tweed Kids. At first I began by tying sandbags that others had already filled. I then held the bag while my friend Theresa (what an amazing girl she is) tirelessly shoveled the sand into the bag. I tied, she moved the filled bag, and we began the cycle again. We got into a good rhythm fill, tie, move, fill, tie, move. It became very obvious to me that she is indeed a farm girl, an exceptionally strong, farm girl. We weren't there long when another friend came along and began to help. In that hour we as a group went through two huge piles of sand.
While we were filling sandbags, pick up trucks would arrive to fill their truck beds with sandbags. Their faces looked tired and worn. Many times they would drive away with some of the high school boys in their vehicles to help them unload and pile. My back ached (I'm so out of shape) as I hunched in the unfamiliar position to hold the bag, but my heart felt filled. I was doing something small, that took very little of my time, that did not exaggerate my chronic pains. I was giving so very little, and yet I was giving to my community, my community who needed my help.
After I had finished my hour, I jumped in my van and drove around to see the destruction. I was near tears as I saw homes that were being destroyed. The water was up to the bottoms of some people's windows. The water was claiming them for it's own. Even if their insurance covers the damage, they will be months cleaning up, trying to put their lives back in order. Many have been displaced from their homes... they are homeless. Many of those people are elderly, many have small children. I drove through water so deep that I feared that it would effect my van. It made me appreciate my warm, dry home. The safety I was returning to.
I took a few pictures of the destruction, but it felt obscene to me. I was taking from those who were in pain. I was capturing their pain, gawking at their damage, while I was going home to a dry home. They were laying awake nights terrified of what would greet them when they awoke. Good friends of ours own the local motel. The water has crept up to their front stairs and is threatening to invade their home, destroying everything in it's path. This is not just their home, but their livelihood. I know that they have been awake checking their home / business. I know that they are living in fear. They were told that sandbags would do nothing to help them, all they could do was watch the water gradually intrude, and devastate.
I gave my time to help, I plan to help again. I say this not because I am looking for recognition, not because I need a pat on the back. I say this because I want to share how easy it is to do something. Volunteering need not be painful. It's a matter of finding something that suits you, and your skills. I did so very little, and yet a made a difference. Not only did I make a difference, I felt amazing for giving such a little bit.
I have included a link to a recent Global news cast. It does not properly do justice to the destruction, neither do my pictures.
I am also including a link to the Municipality of Tweed's website, and included the latest press release for my local readers.