Essex and Kent Regiment in Ottawa for flood relief

Reserve soldiers from the Essex and Kent Regiment are in Ottawa to assist with sandbag operations and flood relief.

The reserves were supposed to be part of a training exercise in Chatham on the weekend

Canadian Armed Forces personnel respond to flooding in west Ottawa's Constance Bay community. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Devin Caron, a 19-year-old from the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment was supposed to be part of a military exercise in Chatham last weekend. 

Instead, the Windsorite was called to Ottawa, along with another 130 reserve soldiers, to assist the municipality in filling sandbags as part of the flood relief efforts.

A typical day for Caron this week starts with an early wake-up call and then heading out to where the worst of the flooding is.

"The flooding is rising quite a bit," said Caron — but he thinks it is better than when he arrived on the weekend. "The people are so good. Everyone is happy to be here and help out. It's good teamwork."

Canadian Armed forces personnel in Gatineau help sandbags. (Albert Leung/CBC)

It's the first brigade-wide operation Caron has taken part in, and he said it feels good to help.

"A lot of these houses, some of them are destroyed. It feels good to help everybody out," said Caron. 

He's seen a lot of basements flooding, and the brigade has also helped set up pumps to assist those people. Between filling sandbags, moving sandbags from one location to another and stacking them into walls, the brigade does a bit of everything.

"Trying to help everybody ... you can only help so many people," said Caron. "We try our best to help as many people as we possibly can."

A fire hydrant in front of a home on rue Jacques-Cartier in Gatineau, Que. is nearly covered by floodwaters from the Ottawa River on Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Captain Mike Wonnacott said the people in the Ottawa area have been supportive and patient as work is underway. 

"Everyone here has been appreciative of the work that we're doing, but they're also appreciative of our limitations," said Wonnacott, who is the second command of 31 Brigade's disaster response team. 

The 31 Brigade, which is the regional group in southern Ontario, expects to be there for two weeks, but it could be longer depending on the water levels. 

"It's a combination of rain coming in and the snow melting up north," said Wonnacott, who wasn't sure how long they'd be there. "We'll be here as long as it's needed."


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