'Canadians helping Canadians': Albertans raise $45K to help clean up Ottawa-Gatineau floods
Donations collected from across provinces, industry groups
Some Calgary business owners are teaming up to help flood victims in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
"Absolutely not kidding. Brought a tear to my eye, absolutely devastating," is how Terry Rawn describes the situation in Rhoddy's Bay, outside of Ottawa.
The region has been hit hard by spring flooding in the Ottawa valley — more than 5,000 homes flooded last month.
Rawn grew up in the Ottawa valley region, but now he's an operator for Tornado Global Hydrovacs, based in Alberta. He is hoping to help flood victims in the area with an Alberta inititative called Energy for Water.
"Up to water past my waist. The sandbag walls are over five feet along the shoreline," Rawn said.
They're using a hydrovac truck to enter flood-damaged neighbourhoods.
"The entire community is waiting for the water level to go down a bit so we can start to pump down the streets," Rawn said.
The idea is the brainchild of Tony Fairfield, president of benefits consulting firm Fairfield Watson. He saw how the hydrovac community helped during the Calgary flood in 2013. He teamed up with Rawn and Kevin Tait, owner of Jet Hydrovac in Calgary, to raise more than $45,000 in two weeks.
It was enough to rent a truck in the region, put gas in it and get it ready to help with the recovery.
According to Tait, the trucks are worth at least $500,000.
"They are specialized equipment to locate underground lines with high-pressure water, adding water to the ground to make mud, suck up the mud so people can safely excavate underground utilities. But, on the same hand, we can fill up 10 cubic metres of water in five minutes," Tait says.
They've collected donations from a number of different companies and industries in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, including the energy sector.
"As Canada has been experiencing so much divisiveness, politically, part of what I hoped is through an act of kindness like this we can sort of put a spotlight on Canadians helping Canadians."
The truck isn't quite operational yet.
Rawn is speaking to locals in flood-damaged areas, including municipal governments to find out where he can go, but he plans to stay and help as many people as he can, for as long as it takes.
"You address them with high spirits and you try to tell them people are out there to help them and try to keep a smiling face. It's hard to, and just coax them through, and say that you're here to help, it's all you can really do," Rawn said.
The group is also donating money to the affected communities and is in the process of setting up a GoFundMe page.