When the chips were down our community stood united, it’s who we are

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#flood2017, Rhonda Massad, West Island Blog, West Island News, Flood, State of Emergency, Montreal

I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you for your continued support in the recent flood crisis on the West Island as well as the Montreal Region. As I was blogging for the West Island Blog before and during the crisis, I found a need for food and supplies rise to the surface. I was also receiving many messages with a desire to help but no place to participate. The flood zone was becoming increasingly chaotic with everyone doing all they could to help. I wanted to help also but couldn’t pin down how.

When Cadillac Fairview called me to ask how they could help the community, I quickly decided we needed a location to unite away from the flood zone because all of going there with good intentions was causing more stress. We needed a place to organize our giving. The arrangements were made in two quick phone calls with Matt at Fairview. One post asking our community to help on various social media sites, including my own, resulted in a miracle.

Our community came in droves. Literally. Before I had time to feed Tank and grab a few things, people were lined up outside the store granted to us at Fairview wanting to help in any way they could. This lasted for six straight days. People came with food, supplies, and love for our neighbors in need. When the chips are down, our community steps up. Each day I opened the doors in the morning thinking for sure the giving would taper off.

Not so.

Every media outlet, small and not so small, called and asked if they could help cover the event and spread the word. People I have known forever joined with people I have never met and rolled up their sleeves to triage, give and support in any way they could think of. It was a movement of epic proportions. I am so proud to live in a community that has such heart.  This was a true miracle.

When I saw that I had maybe taken on more than I could manage, I called my friend Su#flood2017, Rhonda Massad, West Island Blog, West Island News, Flood, State of Emergency, Montrealzanne Briscoe, a volunteer at the West Island Mission. She dropped everything she had going on and stood beside me giving me the infrastructure I needed to get this done. Together we and many volunteers made sure every food bank on the West Island was tended to, and everyone had what was being offered by a very generous community. Our friends at On Rock were in the trenches alongside the Canadian Army, elected officials, public works and countless volunteers. These organizations were an integral part of the process of making sure our efforts were not wasted.

After three days of greeting people and yielding questions at Fairview with so many new friends, Leanne Bayer the Executive Director at West Island Community Shares offered to partner with me and help move what became known as the Food Depot to Pointe Claire Plaza. Three more days of giving, sorting and delivering came with their help.  All in all, we collected 6,000 cases of food and supplies each day.  The food banks are well stocked to handle the needs of the flood victims for weeks to come.

Today our neighbors still need us now that the proper organizations have taken over the distribution of what we collected. They need us to remember and continue to support wherever possible. Every city is having organized clean up efforts, and many fundraising efforts are in place. Pick one and jump on board.

What I learned during this flood crisis is that we need to try to carry this feeling of community forward, always. Watching a community gather to help heal others as well as themselves is the lesson. We are stronger united. When the chips are down, we stand together in strength. It is who we are.

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