Look for the helpers
by Sue Tiffin
Published May 9, 2017
We rely on news reports and updates on social media to know what’s happening when we can’t see it for ourselves. But the lure of paying witness to crisis drew concerned and curious people out into the cold rain in downtown Minden on the weekend to see the flooding with their own eyes – so much so that town officials urged people to avoid driving down roads covered in water, and to leave room for emergency relief workers to move freely.
With each passing day, the water spilled from the river into Peck Street and the road closure sign steadily moved back to make room for the rising flood. It reached the point where it took one’s breath away. How quickly it happened, how terrible it was. Cars pulled in and drivers stepped onto the road to take a picture, or comment on the power of Mother Nature.
Sentiment from onlookers was consistent. People felt helpless as water began to pool into ponds, and flow over the wall of sandbags that were no match for the mighty Gull when it could no longer contain itself.
But alongside those documenting the event to raise awareness of Minden’s recurring tragedy was another group of people – the volunteers.
They came out in full force and balanced the despair with busy hands, putting aside any plans they might have had for the weekend to work alongside equally bustling town officials and emergency personnel.
When tragedy occurs, a quote from Mr. Rogers, known for his ability to gently soothe the fears of children during times of adversity, is often repeated.
“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” he said. “To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
Soon, touching stories filled the air and mingled with the heartwrenching photos. Gideon and Isaac Borgdorff worked alongside their dad to “help people not get water in their homes.” Micheon Hutchings saw events unfold online, and left her son with her husband to donate time and use of her truck because she said, “the town needs help and I have to help. God says we have to help people.”
Abby Xerri said he was taken aback by a sudden group of 20 people who helped place sandbags around the old Keaney building, the new spot of his business, Quantum PassivHaus. “It was a blessed moment,” he said. Cottagers stopped on their way home to do their part. People delivered food and hot drinks to volunteers in the adverse weather. Houses and hotel rooms were quickly offered to anyone leaving their homes. Jeep drivers from out of town parked in a row and spent time filling sand bags. One woman handed out Tim Hortons gift cards to volunteers.
As the water increased, so too did the number of people willing to come together to help in any way they could.
With three water events and two declarations of a state of emergency in five years, it’s evident that something needs to change for the residents of Minden.
But the people – the helpers – they must be encouraged and supported to stay the same. It’s what helps us all get through the rough waters of life.