Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 11, 2014
“City at its best during difficult time…”
As another storm ripped through Brandon last weekend, many weather-weary city staff and residents once again took up the charge to protect the city.
The hammering our region has taken over the past three weeks is unprecedented, but the reaction by residents and civic officials is a true show of the character present in this community.
To say the least, the last few weeks have proved trying, as many of us spent more than a few nights mopping up basements and cleaning up debris.
Through it all, however, the most rewarding observation was the unprecedented number of residents in this city stepping up to help a neighbour. Sometimes it was a neighbour they have known for years, others — as in the case of Dave Barnes — a neighbour they may never have met.
A week has passed now since I, like many in this community, ventured out for a morning’s worth of sandbagging at Barnes’ low-lying Rosser Avenue East residence, and was met by a flood (no pun intended) of other Brandonites down there to support a neighbour in need.
I took this opportunity to chat with some of the other sandbaggers on the line, wanting to find out what brought them there if it was someone they possibly didn’t even know.
Answers ranged from “we were just bored and wanted something to do” to being part of a church group, workplace or team, to one group of young folks who noted with a smile that it was a good “workout.”
As the morning drew on, the camaraderie on the line was tremendous and the people who turned up throughout the day to spell others slipped into that line as if to be another piece in a fairly intricately designed clock.
That particular morning also saw a couple of local elected officials join in the fight. It is a delicate balance publicly for any elected official in a community to not be seen as politicking or grandstanding for the camera when assisting in relief efforts.
The refreshing point that morning — and from these past few weeks, for that matter — is, for the most part, the wise ones helped where the need was the greatest, shared the most pertinent information and stayed quiet on the party line or civic politicking front.
Even a quick visit from Prime Minister Stephen Harper would not draw a great deal of criticism save for what could be considered a few misplaced tweets from those on the periphery of the political loop in Westman.
Party politics or personalities aside, it would be hoped a visit by a prime minister should signal relief efforts and much-needed financial assistance is front of mind for the federal government — something reiterated by our Conservative member of Parliament, Larry Maguire, through various channels.
With another crest on the swollen Assiniboine, we are not out of the woods yet, and the cleanup following the flood for some may take an entire season — if they can clean up at all.
There will be many in our community and surrounding areas who still need support and assistance in the coming weeks, both preparing for the future and mitigating the loss from this year’s flood.
So, if the opportunity presents itself again, please consider supporting a neighbour in his or her struggle.
It isn’t always a big event that brings this community together — it just puts it out on display. There are plenty of little opportunities to show we care as well.
I wanted to take the space in this week’s paper to say I, for one, am glad for the camaraderie that is shown on a daily basis and knowing the idea of helping a neighbour is woven tightly into this city’s fabric.
As much as we are often our own worst enemies, when the call comes in and the need is great, this city has and will continue to deliver — something Brandonites should take great pride in.
There are always opportunities out there to build on the idea of community and this flood will, much like the flood of 2011, stand as one of those moments when city officials, residents, workers, neighbours and friends alike stood up to be counted as supporting one another when the need was the greatest.
For some stunning raw video of this flood check out the link here. Video compliments of the Brandon Sun.