April 2017, the snowpack was a little higher and the rain a little stronger but no one living along the river in West Carleton was prepared for what May would bring.
As the rain fell and the water kept rising and rising. We wouldn't know at the
time but this would be the highest water level ever to be recorded (to date, we all
know what happened only two short years later) on our beautiful Ottawa River.
But along with the water also came another wave. A wave of compassion and an outpouring of support also made its way to West Carleton.
This is the sorry of that support as it was seen by one of our lead volunteers in Constance Bay.
In the first days of May, the annual sand pile at the Constance Bay Community Centre was being frequented by more and more residents as the water crept up their yards. Families whose children were playing soccer and volunteers at the centre noticed these residents and started to help them fill their sandbags. As the pile quickly diminish and more residents showed up noticing the rising water levels, one of the CBBCA's regular volunteers Janet, called up councilor Eli to see when the next sand truck was coming and who was coordinating the efforts. That call started a cascade; more sand and sandbags started showing up. Every time a pile would start to get low Janet would call in for another load. Other calls started to be made as well, calls to the community for volunteers to come help fill sandbags, and boy did the members of Constance Bay show up.
(add photo from early may of sandbag filling)
Angie, who was visiting the centre, looked around and realized everyone must be hungry and went home to bring the stew she was cooking for her family dinner down to warm people up causing the start of yet another cascade this one of food.
As the community centre was under renovation, the lower level bathrooms had just been torn out the week before to create a more accessible space, the city of Ottawa and the Red Cross set up their operation and emergency shelter at our local Legion 616, and the Legion volunteers fired up the ovens. The Legion became a respite for the disaster-weary residents and volunteers, a place to get out of the rain and enjoy a hot meal and the company of the community. The meal that were served were beyond counting and the love shared beyond measure.