KNIGHTS JOINING RELIEF EFFORTS AFTER RECORD FLOODING IN EASTERN CANADA
OTTAWA, Canada—Jocko Point, the home to the indigenous peoples of the Nipissing First Nations, is accessible by one road. If it floods, the entire community would have to be evacuated. Knights of Columbus members are coordinating relief efforts to prevent that from happening.
“A lot of the properties on the lakeside of the property are completely flooded,” said Robert Smith, grand knight of Corpus Christi Council 12106 in North Bay, Ontario. Smith brought sandbags to the area. “The water has gone right to the roadway in one section.”
This isn’t the first community Canadian Knights have helped in the wake of heavy spring rains and melting snow. Three hundred kilometers away in Clarington, Ontario, Knights provided more than 2,000 sandbags, weighing 30 pounds each, to local first responders in order to protect homes along the shore of Lake Ontario.
Now, a month since the initial flooding in April, the floodwaters have begun receding.
“We expect the waters to recede over the next three to four weeks to the point where we can actually get in,” said Harold Marcotte, director of disaster relief for Ontario and member of St. Patrick’s Basilica Council 12158 in Ottawa.
More than 600 square kilometers along the Ottawa River were flooded, damaging nearly17,500 homes and closing off 460 kilometers of roadways. The flooding forced more than 6,500 people to evacuate from areas in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. Canadian officials say residents are grappling with an increasing amount of “100-year floods,” surpassing the 2017 destruction and flood levels.
Bernard Bourgeois, a member of Our Lady of Fatima Council 9742, also in Ottawa, has been unable to assess the damage to his summer cottage. Although he is anxious about the impact of the flooding to his property, Bourgeois said he is focusing on helping other victims.
“A summer cottage is a summer cottage, but most people we’re trying to help out, this is their home,” Bourgeois said. “I can wait. The yardwork and clean-up can wait.”
Meanwhile, Adam Johnson, also a member from Council 9742, is coordinating with Team Rubicon, a veterans’ service organization, to clean more than 200 homes in the Constance Bay and Fitzroy Harbour area which have been contaminated by blackwater — sewage and septic waste. Knights have begun be cooking daily lunches and dinners for an estimated 40 people, including volunteers and flood victims.
Since last fall, the Knights of Columbus has raised more than $1 million and volunteered hundreds of hours to help victims of natural disasters.
“You can’t be a volunteer and a Catholic because volunteering, you have a choice, but as a Catholic, we are commanded by Christ,” Marcotte said. “As a Catholic and as a Knight, we are expressing our faith in action.”