It’s Thursday morning and Île-Bizard resident Geneviève Delisle still has no running water in her house, so simple things like washing dishes or brushing her teeth have become a challenge.
Volunteers have come to the rescue, bringing large jugs of water to her home each day amid flooding.
“They’re always there every morning. They even know what time I brush my teeth. They come and ask “do you need water?” she told Global News.
Her Paquin Street home is just steps from a powerful dike that’s managing to keep the river at bay. Around the, house there’s a huge sandbag barrier too.
“None of this would have been possible without volunteers,” she said.
Dozens of volunteers, including 19-year-olds Cameron Stoute and Tyler Tschunitz, have been sacrificing a lot of sleep to help flood victims.
“I’ve been doing hours starting around 8 a.m. or 7 a.m., and I can go as long as 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. in the morning,” explained Stoute.
“I’m in school full time, and working full time, even doing overtime hours. But even after work, I’ll come here at 11 p.m., work and stay until 2 or 3 a.m.,” said Tschunitz.
Volunteers have become highly organized. They communicate with each other and flooded residents via a radio app on their smartphones and rush to whoever needs them.
“To see the smiles and know people are safe in the community, that’s well worth any sleepless nights for me,” said Stoute.
“Even though they’re going through maybe one of the worst few weeks of their lives, it’s nice to be able to at least alleviate some of that pain,” said Tschunitz.
Friendships are being forged in the frigid waters too. Stoute and Tschunitz met each other while volunteering and realized they live down the street from each other. Now, the pair are speaking all the time.
“Anyone who’s on a scene with us, we become friends with at the end of the day,” said Stoute.
The Holiday Inn Pointe-Claire has become a sort of operation centre for volunteers. It’s overflowing with items people and companies have donated.
“We just received a huge shipment of boots and blankets,” explained volunteer Alana Edwards. “Île Mercier says they’re cold at night, so we got them blankets donated by Tenaquip.”
Thursday morning, Edwards was overseeing a small meeting room at the Holiday Inn full of food, hygiene items, clothing and much more. Edwards said about 24 families forced to leave their homes due to flooding are now living at the Holiday Inn, and rely heavily on donations.
“My faith in humanity has been so restored this week, just being here. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough anymore. There are no words to thank people for their generosity,” she said, holding back tears.
Facebook has become a huge key to flood volunteer operations. People post where help or supplies are needed in the “Operation MTL Flood 2019 – Helping Hands” group, and help is on the way.
“It’s overwhelming the generosity, the love, the outpour from people,” said Edwards.
She has been putting in long hours there, in addition to the long hours she puts in at home.
“I have two children under five and a mom with Alzheimer’s,” she explained.
Without volunteers like her, Cameron and Tyler working marathon shifts, Edwards believes many more West Island homes would be under water.