Red Cross prepares for second stage of flood relief

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Kate Aley

By coincidence or possibly serendipity, this week was the Canadian Red Cross's emergency preparedness week.... And we are all very grateful for the help from Red Cross.

As of this afternoon, (May 10), over $1.7M was raised by the public via the Red Cross to support those affected by this years flooding.

Pontiac2020.ca spoke to Quebec's regional vice president of the Red Cross, Pascal Mathieu. 

"Two thousand six hundred people have been evacuated in the last few days and the number is still rising," said Mathieu. "Although the water level is stabilizing, people are now starting to look for accommodation through the Red Cross. They've been staying with family members for a few days, sleeping on couches, but now they need to find something else. Now the money is going towards the next step."

As the flood waters finally begin to recede, people are beginning to return to their homes... to face the terrible consequences of their valued possessions and house structure soaking for days in filthy river water.

"As the water goes down, families will be facing harsh times," said Mathieu. "We expect a lot [of them] to be not covered [by flood insurance]. Sometimes families were coping with their budget, but now they will find they can't cope with this. The money we are raising is to help them through this stage; to make sure, in this difficulty, no-one goes without."

According to Mathieu, Red Cross volunteers are trained not only to provide practical help but also provide empathy in the face of extreme personal loss and despair. 

"We have 5,000 volunteers in the region," he said. "They are trained to cope with every kind of disaster, including 1,000 house fires a year. They are able to bring comfort to someone experiencing personal disaster. When you see the Red Cross volunteer, you see a person who took the day off to help someone else in need." 

The Red Cross website offers advice for all kinds of disaster scenarios including earthquakes, floods, forest fires, thunderstorms and heat waves.

According to the Red Cross website, two-thirds of Canadians say they have not taken steps to prepare in the event of a disaster, despite the fact that nearly half of them having personally experienced some kind of disaster. Downloads on the site include a 72 Hour Guide to Emergency Preparedness and the Canadian Disaster Database.

"Thousands of people will need our help soon," said Mathieu. "The Red Cross will do what we can to be there."

Donate online to the Red Cross at www.redcross.ca