Volunteering During Montreal Floods
On May 7, 2017, the City of Montreal issued a state of emergency. A record snow fall and continuous rain in the month of April caused the water levels for both the Ottawa and St-Lawrence rivers to rise over the banks, flooding hundreds of homes, and displaced thousands of residents.
The young adults of the Sathya Sai Centre of St-Hubert volunteered in the City of Vaudreuil (adjacent to Montreal) as it was the hardest hit. The young adults filled hundreds of sandbags and build walls around homes to prevent and delay water infiltration. The young adults volunteered for over nine hours, initially filling sandbags then going on trucks to help build the walls. The experience was emotionally moving for the volunteers as they encountered residents who were overwhelmed by the speed at which the water level rose.
When the young adults arrived at the location, there were multitude of sandbag stations that were set up by the city and throngs of volunteers were frantically filling the bags. Volunteers worked in teams where one would hold the bag while the other shoveled sand. The filled bags were then hoisted to another line of volunteers who tied the bag and stacked them along a bank of completed bags. Homeowners, as well as volunteers with trucks, drove by the sandbag stations to fill their trunks. A dedicated set of volunteers, filled the vehicles with bags as they formed a continuous stream through station.
A separate set of volunteers drove out to affected areas to help residences secure their homes. This was one of the more challenging responsibilities for volunteers as they not only were there to assist but had to shoulder the additional responsibility to comfort the families. Some homes were unfortunately beyond repair while others were on the verge of being consumed by the water. In such cases, volunteers worked hard to build a wall to secure the homes.
The event allowed the young adults to work together in unity and serve the local community. The experience left many with transformed hearts and the latter is Sathya Sai Baba’s true motive to live our lives in service to others.