Close to Christmas, EDS teams from Alberta happy to help during devastating BC floods

Kim from Alberta preparing meals for First Responders working to re-open Merritt B.C. after massive flooding across the province
by Alberta
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In early December 2021, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services deployed a three-person team from Alberta to Merritt, B.C. Ian, Kimberley, and Stephen arrived to help continue providing healthy meals to the first responders and organizations working hard to re-open the city after residents were evacuated after massive flooding. A busy and difficult time of year due to COVID-19 and being so close to Christmas, there was no hesitation from many who wanted to help during B.C.’s state of emergency.

Experiencing the worst flooding they’ve seen in 100 years, B.C. also dealt with extreme heatwaves and massive wildfires this past summer. The floods took out highways, created mudslides, comprised water supplies, and left a lot of destruction. The state of emergency was announced on November 17, and The Salvation Army deployed their EDS units to six locations, providing meals and emotional and spiritual care. The teams from Alberta were on standby to respond when needed.

“We were called in because all the B.C. teams had been used, through Kamloops, Merritt, and through Abbotsford and all the other affected communities,” explains Captain Ian Scott, Corps Officer of Berkshire Citadel in Calgary. “We were brought in as reinforcements to finish off the last couple of weeks,” – the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas.

Capt. Scott has been a part of Emergency Disaster Services over the last 15 years, and has been deployed to disasters all over Canada, including the Fort McMurray wildfire, a hurricane watch in P.E.I., Ottawa floods, and other local disasters.

“We deployed three people over two weeks from December 4-18 to Merritt to serve personnel working on getting the town ready for returning residents,” explains Carolynn Barkhouse, then Divisional Director of Emergency Disaster Services in Alberta & the Northern Territories. “We served on average 65 breakfasts and 75 lunches, seven days a week.”

The meals, including vegan options, were prepared at Merritt’s emergency operations centre and helped feed workers from the Red Cross, Emergency Social Services, Public Works, and all those working to restore water and sewer services in town.

“Our first few days, we coped with water sources from outside of the taps and boiling water under the boil water advisory, which made things a lot more hectic,” explains Kimberley Johnson, EDS Coordinator from Calgary, who joined the team for her first deployment. “The third day we were there, we were back to being able to use their physical water.”

As the water supply reopened and people were allowed to return, the last team deployed to Merritt from Alberta concluded December 19.

The main goal of the deployment of EDS teams was to support efforts to get the town back up and running so the residents could return. Thank you to every person who worked so hard to make sure that could happen, especially right before Christmas.

To learn more about The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services, visit SalvationArmy.ca/eds.