WEST CARLETON – When the volunteer organization West Carleton Disaster Relief (WCDR) formed out of a community’s desperate need for help, volunteers knew it would be an expensive proposition.
The WCDR got a huge $100,000 donation from the West Carleton Warriors in 2019 who had just won The Good Deeds Cup.
That exposure attracted other donations. But at the time, the WCDR team was working hard to support the community through three natural disasters at the same time (the 2018 and 2019 flood and the 2018 tornado).
While there has been a three-year gap in natural disasters in West Carleton, last weekend a fourth struck the community in the form of a derecho that toppled trees and hydro poles across the entire Ottawa region.
While the WCDR got a short reprieve from assisting victims of disasters, the volunteer organization used that time to further support their disaster relief mandate.
The WCDR focused their efforts on preventative measures and education campaigns, publishing a series of brochures sharing information to residents on being prepared for a variety of dangers.
The organization also fundraised and purchased an emergency response trailer to serve the community.
But with the relative peace and quiet in the West Carleton community, meant fundraising slowed and the WCDR’s need was somewhat diminished. All that changed last weekend.
So the WCDR is mobilizing again to help those affected by the powerful winds of last weekend’s (May 21) storm, but they too could use a little help.
“WCDR is once again helping our local residents respond to yet another weather-based emergency,” board member Allan Joyner told West Carleton Online. “Yesterday (May 24) we helped two homeowners with tree limb clearing and attended a home near Dunrobin where we set up the generator and water pump from our emergency response trailer and began pumping out a seriously flooding basement. Volunteers are heading out again today (May 25).”
With the relative quiet, the WCDR emergency funds are at an all-time low. But now WCDR is preparing to assist in its fourth natural disaster in six years.
“WCDR is in need of some support at this time,” Joyner said. “Monetary donations will help our volunteers help more residents in more ways over a longer period of time.”
The WCDR have opened a fundraising page on its website https://www.westcarletonrelief.ca/storm2022 where you can donate.
“Volunteers require refreshments, supplies like fuel for generators and chain saws, rental equipment and miscellaneous parts for things like the pumps and lines we set up for residents and even more basic safety equipment like gloves and eye protection,” WCDR board co-chair Hanns Baader said. “As in the past, every penny raised will go to help our affected residents Like we did in two floods and the Kinburn/Dunrobin tornado our volunteers are assessing who needs help and assisting residents and the authorities in any practical way that we can. We are in close contact with Councillor El-Chantiry and with the city’s emergency response organization.”
WCDR has an online reporting form on its website and Facebook page where residents needing assistance can send their requests: https://forms.gle/vP8JEDe4Ro4qLRdA9.
“Our goal is to help those we can with our volunteers and refer anyone else to the proper place,” Baader said. “For example, the city is also helping with tree clearing and this can be reported using the city’s 311 number.”
Because of the nature of the event, many people were without power or even telephones. Information has been especially slow to emerge.
“Helping over the long haul with three previous large emergencies has taught us that people in need often don’t tell anyone and others are too busy dealing with their situation to go looking for help,” Baader said. “In the coming days and weeks, we will be listening for people in need and responding by helping as we can and connecting them with volunteers and agencies that can assist them. WCDR knows the numbers of residents requiring help will grow in the coming days and weeks.”
A city-wide emergency like this one underscores the need for each family to be prepared for emergencies. Every part of the region is affected so help is spread thin. One of the things WCDR has worked hardest on since the last emergency has been educating residents on the importance of being prepared for the first 72 hours after an emergency strikes.
“Our website https://www.westcarletonrelief.ca has information sheets on preparing for various kinds of events and we can’t stress enough the importance of being able to care for your family while first responders and other emergency workers are dealing with the most critically affected people in West Carleton,” Joyner said. “Not only does it prepare your family, it helps your neighbours who are in the most need.”
Contact WCDR if you need help now, follow its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WCDRelief and Twitter feed @WCDRelief for up-to-date information and watch for some WCDR fundraising events in the near future.