Account of an unprecedented weekend of solidarity
On Thursday night, I received emails and calls from people who wanted to help in Aylmer. I tried to find out from the city and ended up being directed to the Red Cross.
On Friday morning, 311 sends me to the Gatineau area to volunteer. Aylmer would not be an area that would need volunteers. Strange, but hey, I'm glad to be able to help.
Friday night: I decide to go around the neighbourhood to see if I can find people in need. I help people in Wychwood, on Hemlock Street. Arriving home, I write on my Facebook page that I propose to tell people where they can help the next day.
Saturday morning, out of bed at 7:00. Go! I go around the neighbourhood, check where there are sandbags, what addresses seem to be in trouble, then revisit the addresses visited the day before and I ask for volunteers to come and help. Arriving on Pilgrim Street, I try to help as I can. Fifteen minutes later, 25 people arrived. An hour passes and we are 60 people, the complete Pilgrim street is secured. Meanwhile, requests for assistance are received on Lake, Forest, Butternut and Saratoga Streets. The team splits and we are now nearly 200 people walking the streets of Wychwood in the rain, helping the residents.
2:00 pm: Arrival on Lake Street and Forest Street. People are trying to prevent the water from going up to the main floor, the battle is already lost for the crawl space, the water is 20 cm from the main floor. Outside, I have water to my elbows; armed with my fisherman's boots, I swim, almost literally, to go and install sandbags. Four pumps are installed, people from all over the neighborhood bring their equipment for reinforcement.
3:00 pm: My first meal of the day, brought by volunteers who made sandwiches for hundreds of people. Thank you!
In the meantime, the team becomes an army, not even counting the number of volunteers. Louis Roy Park serves as a relay base to know the new addresses in difficulty. Speaking of difficulties, every 30 minutes we lack material: sand, bags, ties. The city does not have enough sand, enough bags, the demand exceeds the capacity. Aylmer sector is in short supply and the anxiety is palpable.
6:00 pm: I no longer feel my feet, I am too cold and wet. This is the third time that I change my clothes. Go, go! Continue to fill sandbags in anticipation of the next morning.
8:00 pm: I do a final round of the neighbourhood before I go home.
Sunday morning, 6:30: Here we go again! I'm back on my tour. The house I had helped with on Friday on Hemlock didn’t survive the night, I have an ache in my heart for those residents who have worked so hard for days.
9:30: This time, it is a true army of volunteers that mobilizes in Aylmer. Citizens from everywhere are responding to the call. Solidarity is at its highest level, solidarity is touching. I am so proud of the people of Aylmer, proud of the people of Gatineau.