Quebec floods: Too many volunteers, too little co-ordination?

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WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of West Islanders are heeding the call to volunteer, but with dozens of different coordinators across the island, some are at a loss over where to go and where they’re needed most. Global’s Anne Leclair reports – May 10, 2017

Thousands of West Islanders are heeding the call to volunteer. From making food to filling sandbags, the need for help for flood victims continues. But some volunteers are being turned away and feel they’re getting the runaround.

“They say to go make sandbags but you can’t get to the area to make the sandbags,” Lori-Ann Binsley said. “Then by the time you get there, they don’t need you anymore.”

One resident from Les Cèdres was attempting to deliver perogies that her mother made for flood victims on Ile Cadieux Tuesday morning when she was told to leave the island immediately. She feels the mayor and his team are lacking co-ordination and discouraging volunteers.

“Too many cooks in the kitchen — let’s put it that way,” said Svetlana Chernienko, who is gearing up for another delivery. “I’ll force my way back on the island if I have to.”

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Her mother is cooking up a storm with her friend who drove in from Montreal to help. So far, they’ve delivered an estimated 5,000 perogies in the flood zones and on the menu today — chicken soup for 500 people. Most portions will be headed to Terasse-Vaudreuil where residents need it most.

“What blows me away is how the community is coming together, people from everywhere,” Larysa Chernienko said.

Some residents willing to help out, clearly don’t know where to go. Even the Canadian Armed Forces have had people approach them offering to help out, only to be turned down.

“We have our own drill and it’s very hard to include volunteers in it but it’s always hopeful to see people want to help,” Capt. Pierre Leblanc said.

One mother-son duo has been doing the rounds helping food banks move their perishable goods to where they’re needed most and they’ve witnessed the co-ordination chaos first-hand.

“You just learn as you go along and hopefully pray that this never happens again and if it does, at least we have the knowledge now of how to get things moving quickly,” Sue Panton said.

Facebook groups such as West Island Flood Volunteers/Assistance are helping steer people in the right direction by posting what’s needed, and what services are being offered.

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“It was pretty much a mess at first but people got together and started organizing better,” Andrew Panton said.

Despite being thrown in different directions, many are determined to stay the course and help out as best they can.

“Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be making perogies so we can make a huge batch and bring them over again to the communities ’cause they need sustenance, they need good food,” Chernienko said.

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