Submitted photo of Nathan Waite
CALGARY – By the time readers pick up their Wednesday newspapers there will be at least one more Islander lending a hand to the people of Alberta who have been overwhelmed by catastrophic floods.
Nathan Waite, 19, of Summerside, is one of 13 Red Cross volunteers from Atlantic Canada who are heading to waterlogged Calgary to offer what assistance they can.
Waite has taken a year off after high school to work and is a volunteer with the Miscouche Volunteer Fire Department. He’s a new recruit for the Red Cross.
He is the only Islander being sent to the flood zone by the charity and was scheduled to fly out Tuesday afternoon.
He’s nervous about it; this is his first deployment, he said, but he’s also eager to get going.
“It’s a little nerve-racking. You’re nervous about what’s going to happen, but you’re excited because it’s going to be a good deployment. I’m looking forward to it … it will definitely effect me,” said Waite.
The Red Cross is operating 11 shelters across the effected flood zone in Alberta, but Waite will be heading specifically to Calgary and probably to one of the four shelters being operated there.
He’s not sure what he’ll be doing once he gets there, but it will definitely involve relieving Red Cross volunteers already on the ground.
Marc Belliveau, disaster management associate and a spokesman for the organization in the Atlantic provinces, said on Monday that there’s certainly no shortage of work to be done.
Countless homes and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure in dozens of communities have been devastated over the past week as record setting water levels swelled rivers in Alberta.
At the time this article was written, downtown Calgary had only just managed to restore partial electricity.
Belliveau said some people were now being allowed to return home, however, that does not mean Red Cross will be shutting down their shelters anytime soon.
“These people are going home but we don’t know what they’re going home to,” he said.
“The reality is that they could have damage to their home, they could have sewage, they could have all these issues that they haven’t anticipated.
“So we may have all these people who go back home, but in the end they come back to our shelters anyway until they get their home back up and running again,” he said.
In addition to the volunteers heading to the disaster area, Red Cross also has 111 volunteers working in Atlantic Canada. Those people have already put in more than 1,000 hours of work, manning phone lines and collecting donations.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Red Cross efforts in Alberta can do so by going online to www.redcross.ca or by contacting its call centre at 1-800-418-1111.
Belliveau also said that at times like these people want to fill trucks with supplies or second hand donations and ship them to the disaster zone, but that’s not what they need right now.
“There’s so much cleanup to do and so much unknown. But if they can give financially, we can get that money to the people affected on the ground and can make a big impact with donations,” he said.