Red Cross volunteers check on more than 10,000 homes going door to door. Some tragic stories

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 23, 2014

“We should have the door to door work wrapped up in a few days” said Peter Hodgson, lead Red Cross person on the task of learning just how many homes were damaged in the August 4th flood, and the extent of that damage.

Flood - Hodgson Peter - flood maps

Peter Hodgson, lead Red Cross volunteer points to maps that show how many homes were damaged and where they are located.

The volunteers will have covered in excess of 10,000 homes, explained Hodgson. Their data gets sent to the Region, where it is plotted on maps, which will allow the city to quantify the damage.

Mayor Goldring had explained at the city council meeting earlier in the month that “we need to know how extensive the damage is”.  It is extensive and it is tragic.

For Hodgson the story is much more than numbers on a map. There are some truly tragic situations out there. “We were working with a man who had an extensive “collectibles” collection in his basement. “This was his retirement – and it was gone. The man valued it at more than $1 million.”

Flooding - Regional map houses

The dots indicate a house that was flooded. This was not a small disaster.

There was an apartment building that had some affordable housing units in it. The owner of the building had moved a tenant with little in the way of personal means into a basement unit a few days before the flood so he could renovate the unit they lived in. All was lost.

There was an elderly couple who had suffered extensive damage to their house – all of which was more than they could cope with – but they didn’t want to leave their home.

Hodgson wasn’t able to say, but the sense is that there may be some homes that have to be torn down.

Flood Red Cross class - volunteers

Red Cross volunteers get training on what to do at eah house they call on.

“We don’t talk about poverty in Burlington, but it is there” said Hodgson “and it is situations like this that bring these people to the surface – they have no resources to fall back on. The Red Cross is able to help out but just for a very short period of time.”

“We have people sleeping on air mattresses on the floor in some places” said Hodgson. “We opened up Evacuation Centres but they didn’t really get used – but we had them in place if needed.
The Red Cross has a Memorandum of Understanding in place with the Regional government- which allows them to move into a community on a couple of hours’ notice.

Their volunteers were on the streets within hours doing the door to door work. At the same time the Samaritan’s Purse had crews ripping carpet out of flooded basements and doing power washing, while the fire department put a calendar up on their website showing times, when fire fighters were available to help people with the clean-up.

While all this was going on, citizens were making donations to the disaster relief funds – the total on Friday was $140,000


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