Relief organization lends thousands of volunteer hours to High River (January 15, 2014)

Written by Jane Deacon

Published by High River Times on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In the months following the June flood, Samaritan's Purse volunteers spent close to 20,000 hours working in High River.

During their efforts, 2,400 volunteers helped to clear over 400 homes of mud and silt, then stripped and sanitized them to a point where homeowners could begin to rebuild.

“What's significant about that is this is all work done at no cost to the town and no cost to the homeowner, so that was incredible for us to be able to work alongside that many volunteers,” said Brent Davis of Samaritan's Purse Canada during a presentation to the Town of High River. “(There were) scores and scores of volunteers roaming the streets. It was incredible.”

Samaritan's Purse is an international Christian relief and development organization based in Calgary. It responds to disasters around the world and has deployed volunteer teams to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, along the U.S. Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Just over a week after flood waters swept across southern Alberta, Samaritan's Purse set up a home base in Aldersyde to respond to needs in Calgary, Siksika Nation, High River and Black Diamond.

Approximately 5,000 volunteers came out in support of the organization across the province in the weeks immediately following the flood and helped empty homes of ruined positions, tear down drywall and insulation, and disinfect living spaces.

Since October, Samaritan's Purse has been working with homeowners assisted during the cleanup phase to assess their ongoing needs.

Now that the organization has transitioned from the initial emergency response to helping to rebuild, it hopes to restore as many as 70 flood-affected homes in High River and Calgary over the next 12 to 18 months.

Flood-affected residents with needs unmet by insurance, the province's Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and personal resources can approach Samaritan’s Purse for help rebuilding. The organization is working closely with other relief groups currently stationed in High River -- including World Renew, Mennonite Disaster Services, the Salvation Army and the Canadian Red Cross, among others – to ensure that their efforts work in collaboration to meet as many needs as possible.

Potential work will include relocating heating and electrical systems, insulating basements and major restoration of homes from the ground up.

In High River, Samaritan's Purse is in discussions with 36 families and is in the process of completing 18 small projects (under $5,000).

“In a lot of cases, even that small of a project is the difference between somebody actually being able to be in their home and use it, or not,” said Davis. “So this is anything from replacing flooring, drywall, those sorts of superficial things that make a house a home. To date, we've completed four projects.”

To assist with this and upcoming work, Samaritan's Purse is calling for volunteers to help.

They're in need of everyone from skilled tradespeople to those who can simply hammer nails and clean up worksites. While they are some weekend-only shifts available, those who can contribute at least a week of time are needed most.

“Restoring a flood-damaged home takes a community of volunteers,” said Restoration Project Program Manager Dan Rossi. “We’re asking Canadians to invest some of their time in the lives of these hurting families.”

Those interested in volunteering can visit or call 403-775-0053 to learn more or register.

For more information and to make a donation, visit the Samaritan’s Purse website.

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