Flooding is a seasonal thing, apparently. There were floods in 2017 and now again in 2019. The bad news is that they happen too often. The good news is that it allows for learning. It was very clear today that folks learned from two years ago. How so? The instructions to volunteers were clear
, the places where the filling of sandbags took place had enough stuff (they ran out of bags two years ago), and there were innovations. Such as:
The cones funnel the sand into the bag, and they are at the right height for people just to shift their shovels.
One ends up having one of three jobs--shovel, hold/move the bags to and from the cones, or tie them. There was no one telling the volunteers where to go or what to do once they were dropped off, so I found myself at a secondary pile. I started by tying the bags, but I sucked at it--the strings were not easy to work with--easily broken. So, I moved to being a bagger. I mostly sat on a bundle of sandbags, grabbing loose ones, moving it under the cone, and then moving the semi-full (you don't fill them 100% or else no one can move them around) bag behind me for someone else to tie. The folks who tied the bags and others would then move the bags into the backs of trucks and on to trailers they were towing.
I got into a good rhythm with one shoveler for most of the morning and one tie-er. There were some folks who joined us or who took over various positions. There were a bunch of kids who were doing similar work. Oh, and not everyone had the cone system--they were just shoveling directly into bags. We had our pile of sand re-filled two or three times. The job got much harder once all of the big bags of bags were broken down as I don't do so well kneeling. Sure, I bent the knee, but I could not keep it up for long.
At the biggest pile, there was also more media because the Prime Minister showed up
He is just to the left of the security guy who is staring at my back and at the guy who took the picture (the shoveler I worked with). Some folks didn't really want Trudeau there
. Most of us didn't mind. I thought it made sense for Trudeau to show that he was engaged in this crisis, helping out, and providing an opportunity for the media to show what we were all doing. [UPDATE
: since this has become slightly controversial, I should note that his appearance was a blip--we had tons of volunteers and other folks working hard before/during/after his appearance and the piles of sand were mostly maxed out in terms of how many people could work on them. PMJT only slowed us down long enough to take a pic, and given how physical the work was, taking a minute break was hardly a bad thing]
I had never volunteered for anything like this before. I probably will again, as this area will flood again. And because I feel like I owe Ottawa something. This is my second favorite place I have lived (hard to compete with San Diego, what with no winter there and all). The town has been very, very good to me, helping me do my work, being full of interesting people, having a vibrant ultimate community that includes leagues for geezers (grandmasters is the correct term), and being so very welcoming to us. It is the first place I have ever moved where I knew people ahead of time and was joining friends.
Sure, it rained on us, and, yes, it snowed on us, and it got windy at times. My shoveler occasionally threw sand on me, and I have a couple of blisters and many sore muscles. But I feel really good about contributing to the sandbag building. On our way out, we passed by homes that were using these sandbags to protect them.
Ok, the CBC took that photo since I was on the wrong side of the bus as it shuttled us back to the base where I had parked my car. That base was chock full of people looking to join the effort. The effort will continue tomorrow and perhaps beyond that.
Oh and the last time I was this close to so many light armored vehicles was Kandahar:
Most of the army folks were at a very large pile of sand, but some were spread out helping to coordinate.
Anyhow, I highly recommend joining in on such efforts. It is not only a good thing to do, but, it makes you feel good