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Red Cross seeks more volunteers after flooding hit N.B.

CBC News

Monday, January 28, 2019, 2:21 PM - The Canadian Red Cross is looking for more volunteers in the Sussex Region after a powerful rainstorm washed out roads and forced dozens of people from their homes last week.

"We're seeing more responses, they're more severe, affecting more people for longer periods of time," said Marc Belliveau, deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross in Atlantic Canada.

The Red Cross assisted 64 people from 40 households in the Sussex, Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton areas after last week's storm and flooding.

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Sussex residents are cleaning up after a flash flood on Friday. (Lauren Bird/CBC News)

The Sussex region saw the brunt of the storm, with water levels peaking at 19.75 metres above sea level Friday.

Volunteers are still helping 15 people from 10 households affected by flooding.

But Belliveau said there could be more people who aren't under the organization's care who are staying with family and friends.

He said finding volunteers in the Sussex area has been a priority for the Red Cross for several months now.

Ainslie McAllister says this is the second time her house has flooded in a month. (Lauren Bird/CBC News)

"Following events like this, it is really a time where we try and get out there and inform the public that we do require those volunteers," Belliveau said in an interview with Information Morning Saint John.

The Red Cross has about 220 volunteers across the province. The relief organization is looking for eight to 10 new volunteers in the Sussex region for future emergencies, such as significant weather events or house fires.

The volunteers should be people who can work flexible hours and want to give back to their community, he said.


"We're not first responders, we're there for the people," he said.  

"When we arrive on scene, the fire department is putting out the fire, the RCMP might be blocking off the road. And we are there to make sure that those residents are registered and have a safe place to go, clothes on their back and food."

Belliveau said geographically it makes more sense to have local volunteers because they are familiar with the area, and it promotes "residents helping residents."

"By the end of the day, this is community pride. This is people that want to make a difference in the community. They're able to help their neighbours."

He uses the example of a person losing their home in a house fire. 

"You've just watched everything you know, everything you love, that has potentially burned to the ground," he said.

Marc Belliveau, deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross in Atlantic Canada, said the past 12 months has been the busiest time for the organization in 20 years. Credit: Elizabeth Chiu/CBC

"You are looking for somebody who is going to be empathetic, who is going to be a local person that can come alongside you and help guide you in the next steps to recovery."     

Belliveau said the past 12 months have been the busiest in the last 20 years. The agency responded to 150 events and helped 2,600 New Brunswickers.

"That is the rising trend of what is happening in the emergency management world," he said.

With files from Information Morning Saint John.

This story was originally published by CBC News. 


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