West Island flood volunteers wrap up donation operations at Holiday Inn
The temporary flood donation centre at the Holiday Inn in Pointe Claire is closing.
Volunteers say that with flood relief now switching to clean-up mode, their services aren’t needed as much.
“There’s days now when there’s nobody that comes in,” explains Alana Buist. “A lot of the evacuees who were in the hotels are now back in their homes.”
She was among a team of volunteers who started the donation centre a month ago. The hotel donated the room for them to receive and distribute aid to flood evacuees who left their their flooded homes, often with nothing.
“It was very good,” Île Mercier resident and evacuee Eric Carle told Global News. “They actually even came to see me to make sure that I have enough.”
The group helped fill gaps in services that other organizations were giving.
“When I first got here I had nothing at all,” says Carle. “I still didn’t get help from the Red Cross or anything so these guys helped me out for food.”
Buist was amazed by the generosity of complete strangers, who donated everything from clothes to cleaning supplies.
“This room was packed,” she says, pointing to several boxes and bags still piled high in the room.
“The tables were packed; we had stuff under the tables.”
She and the volunteers also gave emotional support to the victims.
“They were sad, they were depressed; they just needed a hug or a smile,” she says. “I have never been so emotionally drained by the end of the day, whether it was happy, whether it was sad.”
Now it’s time to close the space. By Tuesday, the volunteers will be gone. Buist says the end is bittersweet because in the midst of of the hardships, close bonds were formed
“You’re going through a difficult time,” she explains. “There’s evacuees who’ve created new friendships because they have common things now.”
Those like Sonia Brown are forever grateful for the work the volunteers put in.
“To be honest I was very shocked,” she says. “There was a lot of volunteers that really — they’ve been working non-stop.”
One challenge remains: getting rid of the remaining donations. Most are being given to shelters around the city, like the Welcome Hall Mission where Buist dropped off boxes Friday morning.
She and the other volunteers hope others in need will also benefit from the generosity of strangers.
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